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Local feminisms: a comparative analysis of feminist literary theory and practice in the 1970s in Britain, America, and Turkey

Akdoğan, Şule
Feminism in literary theory and practice has a long and complicated history and the 1970s were critical to that history because it was in that period that feminist criticism showed itself as an influential force, particularly in Western literary works. The decade observed not only enthusiastic feminist protests against a socio-political background but also a ramification of feminism into different branches such as liberalism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis which, in a way, shaped today’s understanding and discussion of feminism. When the dominating feminist agenda following this decade is analysed, it is recognized that many resources refer to 1970s’ feminist literary theory and practice as a single, unified notion, ignoring local differences. While there is no doubting the commonality of the main issues underlying feminism, and in that respect it is a truly international movement, the focus of feminist concern and action changes with its socio-political contexts, and this is also reflected in differences between the discourse and practice of what we might call local or, perhaps, national feminisms. The aim of this dissertation is to explore the feminist literary theories and practices of different localities, namely those of Britain, America and Turkey, in the 1970s and to lay bare where they coincide and where they show individual features; perhaps even where they contradict each other. Within this frame, Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve, Fay Weldon’s Praxis, Joanna Russ’ The Female Man, Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room, Adalet Ağaoğlu’s Lying Down to Die and Leylâ Erbil’s A Strange Woman, and the key feminist literary theories and discussions produced in each culture will be studied in this dissertation.