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Lois Tyson Readings: Marxism and Feminism

by: Leah Notetaker

Lois Tyson Readings: Marxism and Feminism ENGL 150- 001 (, Blake R. Westerlund)

Leah Notetaker

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About this Document

These notes contain the basic concepts and definitions covered in readings on Marxism and feminism by Lois Tyson.
Blake R. Westerlund
Class Notes
Literature, Literary Analysis, marxism, Feminism, Critical Approaches to Literature
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Leah Notetaker on Tuesday October 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 150- 001 (, Blake R. Westerlund) at University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire taught by Blake R. Westerlund in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 43 views.

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Date Created: 10/04/16
Lois T yson Readings Marxism  Whoever controls the socioeconomic system has the most power. o (ex. feudalism; lords owned land, serfs worked the land)  In Marxist theory, it is not just power that controls. o Other factors may include education, religion, etc. o This controls how we perceive ourselves and the world. o The people who are in the system often see it as the “right system”, and it may lead to the belief of natural superiority.  In the United States, competition is the key to financial success. o This starts at a young age, especially within education. (ex. spelling bees) o America’s Puritan roots may also play a role. (God’s chosen people) o This largely shapes our personal identity.  The goal of Marxism is a classless society.  In literature, questions may be brought up relating to Marxist theory. o What oppressive socioeconomic ideologies influence the characters’ behaviors? o Does the work combat ideologies by showing the damage they cause? o If it does not answer these, the text is a part of the problem. Some Common Socioeconomic Ideologies  Classism- our value as human beings is related to social class; high class = good, lower class = bad; the higher classes assume leadership roles and are in good places; the lower class is dumb and lazy; class is determined by birth, cannot be changed  Capitalism- worth is determined by money; Marxism claims that it promotes greed, especially when in the hands of a few individuals  American dream- hard work will lead to success, “rags to riches”; may lead to belief that the poor are lazy; natural superiority  Rugged individualism- duty is for oneself to achieve; may be romanticized  Organized religion- not necessarily to do with belief in God; but leaders can be very controlling of the day-to-day lives of the people Feminism  Feminist theory wants us to examine the ways that personal identity is formed by society’s definition of a man or a woman, as men and women are socialized in different ways.  Patriarchy- culture in which men occupy most or all positions of power; women may suffer depending on race, religion, class, etc.  Feminism seeks to understand these ways of oppression to reduce or eliminate them.  We do not always understand or notice the problems in the society we live in.  Feminist theory, like Marxist theory, may be used to examine literature. o (ex. Are there stereotypes? Do characters conform to gender roles?) o Sometimes, a text may approve of patriarchal ideology; sometimes, it does against it by pointing out the issues. o Readers may not always agree with each other as to what the text is trying to say. Basic Concepts  Patriarchy- men hold most or all of the power; promotes traditional gender roles; limits career options for women especially  Traditional Gender Roles- gender roles are produced by the patriarchy, not by nature o (ex. Men are strong, smart, and breadwinners. Women are irrational, less intelligent, and do most of the housework.)  Objectification of Women- women who adhere to traditional roles are seen as “good” or pure; women who violate traditional roles are seen as “bad” and sexual objects; both of these objectifications view women as objects, not independent beings.  Sexism- belief that women are inherently inferior to men in intelligence, courageousness, etc. o This argues that we are not born feminine or masculine; society decides which of these behaviors is acceptable to men and women.  Cult of True Womanhood- origins in Victorian era; a “true woman” is one who is fragile, submissive, and sexually pure; “helpless female”; excludes non-white women, lower class women, etc.


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