A Year of Feminist Classics

Because they're better together :)

Category Archives: Giveaway

Borderlands/La Frontera giveaway

Hello everyone! My apologies for getting the ball rolling a little late on Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera. A proper introduction post is in the works. But before I get to that: I recently purchased the newest edition of the book, so in the interest of not hoarding, I’d like to offer up my old copy. It’s a second edition that’s in pretty good shape, but I bought it used, so there are a couple of “used” stickers on it. A few of the pages also have some underlining (not mine).

Leave a comment by Friday night if you’re interested, and on Saturday I’ll randomly draw someone.

Interview with Stephanie Staal (and Giveaway Winners!)

Back on February 22nd all four of us (Amy, Ana, Emily, and Iris) reviewed Reading Women by Stephanie Staal and told you about a fantastic giveaway. Today we are back with our interview with Stephanie Staal.

  1. One of the most interesting things about Reading Women is the fact that you read so many different feminist texts and take away something from all of them. If you had to pick the one that resonated with you the most, though, what would it be, and why? It’s so difficult for me to pick just one book, since I had quite a few favorites, each one resonating with me in a different way. But I suppose if I had to choose the book that, upon re-reading, left the deepest impression, I would say Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Stumbling upon her book when I did – as a relatively new mom – only to discover that I was relating to it in a way that I hadn’t as an undergrad served as a wake-up call. In college, I had viewed The Feminine Mystique as a work anchored to a very particular place and time – post World War II, white, middle-class suburbia. So it was somewhat of a shock to find myself, over a decade later and over four decades after Friedan published her book, identifying with some of the women she describes. Ultimately, re-reading The Feminine Mystique forced me not only to think more critically about the issues I was facing in my own life by placing them in a larger context, but also to appreciate the ways in which the world has changed since Friedan’s day.
  2. You mention in the afterword that there were several texts from the syllabus you couldn’t include in the book for reasons of space – if it had been possible, which are the ones you wish you could have included the most? I actually have rough chapters on Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Angela Y. Davis’ Women, Race & Class, and Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class all sitting in a desk drawer – and there are even more books I would have included!
  3. Your reading of feminist texts was often quite different from that of the younger students in your class. What most surprised you about the younger generations’ take on the material? There was often quite a diversity of perspectives and opinions in the class, so I was a little surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reception to pornography when we covered the subject in class. Obviously it’s a complicated topic, with too many nuanced arguments, whether pro or con, to cover in just one class or in a few sentences here. But for whatever reason, I sensed a real discomfort among the younger students with expressing any critique of porn at all, as if being anti-porn meant being anti-sex, and that I found disturbing. We are clearly still faced with the challenges of articulating female sexuality in a culture of predominantly sexist, mixed messages, and I think these challenges can be especially difficult and confusing for young women. As the mother of a daughter, I often worry about the negative influence of hyper-sexualized images of women, and I was definitely bringing that sensitivity into the classroom.
  4. Clearly, you learned a lot about both feminism and yourself throughout the course of this project. What is the lesson you learned that is most applicable to your day-to-day life? In the book, I mention a quote from one of my professors that has stuck with me. She urged us to “tell the unexpected story,” or, in other words, to question the prevailing stories about women’s roles by finding new and creative ways to re-tell them; many of the authors I read provided inspiration in this respect. Revisiting feminist texts, and seeing the progression of feminist thought over time, reminded me how much these bold and enterprising women had accomplished over the past centuries – while at the same time revealing what work remains to ensure social, political, and economic equality. I was very fortunate to have the privilege and opportunity to take this personal journey through the feminist canon, engaging with feminist theory as an individual endeavor, but the practice of feminism must also involve the everyday effort to improve the lives of all women. And this is probably the most important lesson I have taken to heart.
  5. Reading Women coverOn our blog, a group of book bloggers are reading a list of 14 feminist text which we discuss together. Do you have any tips considering that our approach to the books (both scholarly and related to our every day life) is quite similar? First off, I absolutely love your blog – the discussions, the comments, all the background information on the books. For me, I found that learning about an author’s life – as well as about the social milieu in which she or he was writing – really enriched my reading experience and deepened my understanding of the material. On the other hand, I tended to shy away from reading contemporary scholarly or academic articles interpreting the meaning of a work for fear of being swayed too much in my own analysis. And since you are taking an approach that is both personal and scholarly, I would encourage you to explore the random trails of thought and memory that open up as you read, because they often lead to interesting places.
  6. At the end you talk about repeating the experience in another few decades. Do you think you really will? I hope so. In fact, I was joking with my daughter the other night that maybe we should take it together, when she goes to college – now how fascinating would that be!

Thank you to Stephanie for taking the time to answer our questions. We all had a great time with the book and coming up with the questions and hope that you have enjoyed her responses as much as we did. For more information on the book you can check it out on the Public Affairs website. You can also check out Stephanie’s site.

Now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for… giveaway results! What with the multiple entries for participants I (Amy) counted a total of 45 entries. I used random.org to choose the 5 winners and they are:

The winners have been contacted and if they don’t respond within a week new winners may be selected. Thank you to all who entered and congratulations to the winners. And thank you as well to Public Affairs for providing the books for this fantastic giveaway!

Reading Women by Stephanie Staal – With Giveaway!

Reading Women by Stephanie StaalReading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed my Life is a book with more than a passing resemblance to the Year of Feminist Classics Project.  The author, Stephanie Staal,  writes about how she decided to retake the Feminist Texts class she first took as an undergraduate, and even her reading list is very similar to ours.  For this reasons, we couldn’t say no when we were offered the opportunity to review the book here. Reading Women came out today, and all four of us have posted our thoughts on the book on our blogs. Amy had this to say:

I really enjoyed this book as a look at one women’s discovery through the texts. Staal is clear that it is only her interpretation and ideas and that others will of course find different things in the book. To me this highlighted the best part of feminism and these texts which is how individual it can be and how it can still speak to so many of us in different situations. By coming together and listening to (and respecting) each others stories we can keep the momentum.

Emily Jane was particularly interested in how Staal’s reactions to the texts she reads changed over time. She says:

Ten years later, Staal has wildly different reactions to the works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, and Judith Butler–among many others–than she did upon her first reading of them. Interestingly, she sometimes has wildly different interpretations than do the younger women in her class, as well. This inter-generational exchange of interpretations was one of my favorite parts of the book, and I loved how the conversational tone allowed for so many different perceptions to get their due. Many times, in fact, I was tempted to take a break from reading and talk back to Staal and the girls in her class! But not all of the book is classroom centered. Staal always refocuses on how the things she’s learning from the “great books of feminism” impact her relationships with her friends, family, and everyone else.

To Iris,

What makes Staal’s book interesting for bloggers who are also participating in our feminist reading project is that Staal’s approach to the works of feminism very much reminded me of what we are doing. She does give insight into the central premises of these works of feminism, but she doesn’t describe them in a scholarly fashion alone. Like we have done with Wollstonecraft, Mill and Bâ, she looks at these works both in the light of the historical context as well as in the light of modern concerns. Furthermore, she engages with them through the prism of her own personal life. Something that does, I think, sound very familiar to book bloggers.

And I also felt that the highly personal tone of Reading Women was very fitting:

The practical applications of feminism and the ways in which it can be helpful when it comes to everyday decisions are, after all, the major themes of this book. Another reason why I didn’t mind the highly personal tone was because the author was a pleasure to spend time with: she comes across as sensible and highly intelligent, and it doesn’t hurt that I agreed with her about 90% of the time. It was easy to imagine myself discussing all these books with her over coffee.

Thanks to Public Affairs, we are hosting a giveaway for Reading Women. The giveaway is open to everyone, but we thought we’d reward project participants with an extra entry for the sake of fairness. If you’d like to be entered, just leave us a comment saying so – it’s as simple as that.  For an extra entry, mention it if you have signed up for the project – it doesn’t matter if it was to read one book or all twelve of them. The giveaway will be open for two weeks, until the 8th of March. And if you come back next week, we’ll be asking Stephanie Staal a few questions about her own reading project and the things it has in common with ours.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Giveaway

As you know this project starts in January with A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft and So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ. I have already read both of these books but look forward to reading both again with a group to be able to discuss them in-depth. In preparation, I picked up a new copy of The Vindications that includes a lot of supplementary material. This means that I now have an extra copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Women sitting on my bookshelf…

Vindications coverI would love to have more people join in on the discussion, so I am offering my old copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Women to a lucky reader – open internationally to anyone anywhere (though I apologize it isn’t in the best of shape, I originally got it second-hand), and giveaway will close at midnight AST on December 26th, which is Boxing Day here in Canada. To enter, fill out this form.

This giveaway is cross-posted on my own blog, Amy Reads, and you are welcome to enter once there as well 🙂

UPDATE – the giveaway is now closed. I used Random.org to select the giveaway from among the 17 entrants and the winner was… the 14th entrant, Lisa of BaffledBooks! Congratulations to Lisa. I’ve emailed you and the book will be on it’s way shortly.