An Ethic of Innocence

Pragmatism, Modernity, and Women's Choice Not to Know

Kristen L. Renzi
eISBN-13: 9781438475981

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An Ethic of Innocence examines representations of women in American and British fin-de-siècle and modern literature who seem "not to know" things. These naïve fools, Pollyannaish dupes, obedient traditionalists, or regressive anti-feminists have been dismissed by critics as conservative, backward, and out of sync with, even threatening to, modern feminist goals. Grounded in the late nineteenth century's changing political and generic representations of women, this book provides a novel interpretative framework for reconsidering the epistemic claims of these women. Kristen L. Renzi analyzes characters from works by Henry James, Frank Norris, Ann Petry, Rebecca West, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, and others, to argue that these feminine figures who choose not to know actually represent and model crucial pragmatic strategies by which modern and contemporary subjects navigate, survive, and even oppose gender oppression.

ISBNs 9781438475967, 1438475985, 9781438475981
Language English