Notes and Observations on Showalter's 'A Jury of Her Peers' Introduction
Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx is a book by Elaine Showalter that traces the development of women’s literature in the United States. These notes are taken from the book as part of the Diverse Women Writers course at Salt Lake Community College. The title of the book is taken from a short story that involves a wife killing her husband. (Observations are in parentheses.)
The short story “Jury of Her Peers”…the isolation that finally drove her mad…a patriarchal system of law
Utah was the first state to allow women to serve on juries in 1898.
“more energetic and masculine” (Is that because men don’t read?)
“Mrs. Carl van Doren” (We can’t rewrite history. That is how women were referenced. Judging the past on today’s standards doesn’t make sense. People are not able to drag themselves to be much more than what they have learned. See Jim Korkis’ discussion of Meryl Streep’s allegations against Walt Disney.)
Debate – rousing argument; robust dispute
The judgment of capitalism – buy the books
Jews and respect for a woman’s name vis-à-vis the Bible
“Flowery” names for women writers was not a figurative suggestion but a literal one.
Ch. 1: A New Literature Springs Up in the New World
Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to publish a book in America. Chapter one discusses her and Mary Rowlandson’s work in the early to mid-1600s and how women were generally viewed at the time (kind of like they were viewed in the 1950s).
They had to have men write introductions and defend their femininity. (Bradstreet’s own self-effacing lines to introduce her book are reminiscent of Puck’s words at the end of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. They also echo the stereotypes of the women who are really in control – the secretary and wife – they use words that puff up and assure the men when everyone really knows who is running the show.)
Rowlandson wrote about her experience being captured by the Narragansett Native Americans.