Struggle For Identity In Modern Literature Essays

Barrow, Craig. Gender, Race, and Identity. Chattanooga, Tenn.: Southern Humanities Press, 1993. Ties together the study of gender and race identity.

Dixon, Melvin. Ride out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American Literature. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1987. A unique study of the connection between culture and individual identity.

Frosh, Stephen. Identity Crisis: Modernity, Psychoanalysis, and the Self. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1991. A perceptive analysis of the dialectical connections among the individual, culture, and society.

Massey, Irving. Identity and Community: Reflections on English, Yiddish, and French Literature in Canada. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994. A comprehensive study of identity related issues in Canadian literature.

Schier, Helga. Going Beyond: The Crisis of Identity and Identity Models in Contemporary American, English, and German Fiction. Tubingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1993. One of few works that focuses on the study of identity crisis and provides a global perspective on the issue.

Singh, Amritjit, Joseph T. Skerrett, and Robert E. Hogan. Memory, Narrative, and Identity: New Essays in Ethnic American Literatures. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994. A collection of essays that examine identity issues in African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American literature and cultures. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Wright, Lee Alfred. Identity, Family, and Folklore in African American Literature. New York: Garland, 1995. Takes a historical look at how African American writers use folklore and literature to deal with identity crisis.

Zeineddine, Nada. Because It Is My Name: Problems of Identity Experienced by Women, Artists, and Breadwinners in the Plays of Henrik Ibsen, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. Braunton, Devon, England: Merlin Books, 1991. A study of identity crisis in drama, especially in contemporary American theater.

As the VIDA count shows, the ratio of male to female writers published in literary journals, magazines, and book reviews remains largely disproportionate in favor of male writers. In the conversation around this imbalance, some have suggested (among other silly arguments) that women should simply write about more important subjects. The folks over at Creative Nonfiction, the literary magazine that this year celebrates its 20th consecutive year of publication, scoff at this assessment of the situation. In fact, CNF’s current issue, “Female Form,” includes only essays by female writers. While the theme of the issue was initially unintentional, CNF’s editors think this only shows that there are indeed plenty of women writing serious nonfiction; they’re just not getting the serious attention they deserve. Just to hammer the point home, the magazine curated this list of 17 essays by female writers every woman (and man) should read. Check them out after the jump, and if we missed any of your favorites, add them to CNF‘s list in the comments.

“Split at the Root,” Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich was one of the major feminist writers of the 20th century, and throughout her many volumes of poetry and essays, she has voiced the struggles to establish identity — especially female identity. In 1982’s “Split at the Root,” Rich recalls growing up in a Southern, Christian household, and frets over the significance of identifying — as an adult — as Jewish.

Adrienne Rich    Annie Dillard    Cheryl Strayed    Jamaica Kincaid    Joan Didion    Joyce Carol Oates    Maxine Hong Kingston    Virginia Woolf    Zadie Smith

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