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The Creation of Feminist Consciousness


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About the Author

Gerda Lerner is Robinson-Edwards Professor of History, Emerita, at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, and the author of 8 books in women's history.


With this book, Lerner (history, Univ. of Wisconsin) completes her study Women in History . In the initial volume ( The Creation of Patriarchy , LJ 7/86), Lerner examined the development of female subordination as a historical phenomenon; in this work, she analyzes the conditions necessary to contest the idea of patriarchy. She places educational disadvantage at the center of continuing female subjugation, descibing women's devotion to mysticism and motherhood and offering illustrations of those few extraordinary women who transcended constraints. But feminist consciousness, Lerner argues, depended upon both economic independence and the development of a written history; these conditions finally emerged in the 19th century. Based on wide-ranging research and written with a scholarly audience in mind, Lerner's lively and provocative essay will nevertheless attract a broad readership. Suitable for large public libraries and all academic and research collections.-- Cynthia Harrison, Federal Judicial Ctr., Washington, D.C.

"[The] material is valuable."--Molly Wertheimer, Pennsylvania State University "Great book."--Alison Hirsch, Penn State, Harrisburg "An essential document of the centuries of struggle that lie beneath the assumptions of cultural and political entitlement American women take for granted today."--San Francisco Chronicle "Powerful...exemplary in several senses of the word..."--Katherine Gill, The New York Times Book Review "Gerda Lerner's prodigious efforts at putting raw history on the table ensure that her discoveries won't suffer from the obscurity that plagued pre-modern 'feminist' research. Her 'big-picture' revision of how we see the past should remain one of the enduring achievements by a contemporary American historian."--The Philadelphia Inquirer "In this wise, wonderful book, Gerda Lerner follows in the footsteps of her scholarly foremothers, but with a poignant difference. The thinking women before her, denied an intellectual tradition for twelve hundred years, thought and wrote in isolation. Looking back in righteous and rightful indignation, Lerner remedies the very tragedy she analyses. Everyone who thinks about women's thinking should read this book, discover our heritage, and contemplate its interruptions."--Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University "Splendid....This sharp, incisive book concludes the work Lerner so well began in The Creation of Patriarchy. Together they make up a vital contribution to women's studies."--Booklist "Lerner documents the 1,200-year struggle of women to free their minds from patriarchal though, create women's history, and achieve a feminist consciousness."--Feminist Bookstore News "Impressive."--The Milwaukee Journal "Based on wide-ranging research....Lively and provocative."--Library Journal "Densely researched, accessible and engrossing conclusion to Lerner's two-volume study Women in History....Lerner helped pioneer the study of women and history and remains preeminent in the field."--Publishers Weekly "Gerda Lerner has done it again. This extraordinary work is the perfect antidote to anyone who still believes that feminism is a recent (or North American) phenomenon. The scholarship is, as usual, superb--and is equalled by Lerner's elegant yet accessible style. Once again, Gerda Lerner gives women back our history."--Robin Morgan, author "A pioneering study of the utmost importance which allows us to experience the tragedy and the triumph of women who attempted over the centuries to understand their situation and their history. This work is bound to have enduring influence and may well be Gerda Lerner's most significant contribution yet."--Lawrence W. Levine, Margaret Byrne Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley "Admirable fulfill[s] [Lerner's] fundamental aims....Argues powerfully for the kind of history...that will encompass women along with men in a truly "usable past."--The Women's Review of Books "Gerda Lerner commands respect....[The Creation of Feminist Consciousness] is intelligent, individualistic, engaging, and quirky....Provide[s] many useful insights....Each chapter of this book ends with a brilliant and thought-provoking conclusion....The sheer wealth of information Lerner presents is impressive and her scholarly mastery, astonishing....[It is] a book worth reading for its insights and breath-taking mastery....Lerner is without doubt a treasure of feminist scholarship."--Culturefront

This volume is a densely researched, accessible and engrossing conclusion to Lerner's two-volume study Women in History. In The Creation of the Patriarchy (1986), she traced the slippery progress of women in ancient Near Eastern societies into a subordinate position but the Sisyphean journey back is no less painful. Analyzing European, American and African American history, Lerner begins with the ways in which women sought ``self-authorization'': as mystics, speaking with the voice of God; as mothers, educators and nurturers of future generations, or as creators. Lerner then moves on to show how self-authorization combined with education and female networks helped foster feminist consciousness. This is no linear tale, however. As Lerner notes, men's contributions became the common heritage while ``women's creations sank soundlessly into the sea, leaving barely a ripple, and succeeding generations of women were left to cover the same ground others had already covered before them.'' Lerner, Robinson-Edwards professor of history emerita at the University of Wisconsin, helped pioneer the study of women and history and remains preeminent in the field. (Mar.)

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