Feminist Analysis- Inventing
Having close-read and annotated your primary text, the next phase of the writing process, inventing, requires you to gather the many observations your close-reading has produced and shape them into core ideas and themes. This is where you begin an exciting exploration of the text, bush-whacking your way through language and theories. One of the primary goals of inventing is to generate a main interpretation. The following strategies will help you begin generating significant ideas about a literary work.
- In order to test your comprehension, answer generic, fact-based questions involving plot, characters, and settings, for instance:
--How many male/female interactions occur versus same-sex interactions?
--What work do the men and women do?
--Are the women characters confined to particular settings?
--What educational or financial opportunities do the women have?
- Read through the annotations you made. Try to write out exactly what you think the author is saying and why it might be important to your interpretation.
- Flesh-out observations you made during close reading in a journal.
- Look for correlations among significant quotes and your observations so you can try to categorize them.
- Create a list of interpretive questions about varying and important aspects of a work. Good interpretive questions are open-ended, not fact-based. They require deep thought and time. Interpretive questions ask why or what element of a literary work is important and involve references to devices and meanings (i.e. form and content).
- Writing a Discovery Draft will help you develop ideas and loosely organize your thoughts about the characters, settings, literary devices, and themes in a literary work. It is a cross between a journal and a first draft, and can be thought of as a free-writing, exploration. Indeed, it is a more coherent version of your journal entries synthesized together. A Discovery Draft is a very messy attempt at writing your analysis. It should not be considered a rough first draft but a means for logging your thoughts on paper.
- Be aware of tropes. Tropes are the literary equivalent of stereotyping. Some typical female tropes include the virginal damsel-in-distress love interest, the manipulative slut, the shrewish nagging wife, and the selfless nurturing mother hen, but there are many more. If the characters seem one-dimensional or particularly defined by their relationship to male characters, then they are more than likely some type of patriarchal trope.
- Note that the idealization of a woman character can be as patriarchal as a deprecating characterization.
- Consider the aspect of the author’s gender. If the work is by a woman, how might it reflect a unique feminine perspective or use of language? How does the author’s position as a woman effect the aim of her writing.
Below is an example of inventing to determine possible main ideas by categorizing notes on Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers.”