The Portrayal of Women in Contemporary American Literature: Realism or Misogyny? (Abstract)

The purpose of my project is to investigate the portrayal of women, feminist elements and gender roles in fictional texts published between the time frame of 1966 and 1987 in order to draw a consensus about the depiction of women by contemporary American authors with special attention placed on the authorial gender identity. By using noteworthy modern and historical feminist critiques as a framework for reading the texts, I hope to discern whether the treatment of women in contemporary literature is primarily misogynistic or realistic, especially in regards to the transitional period as postmodernism emerged as the dominant literary and cultural paradigm. Tracing these changes of influence, as well as the differences in the treatment of women by authors of opposing sexes, will allow my research to touch upon a number of previously ignored contemporary American texts and will help to illuminate how the rise of modern feminism has affected modern and postmodern texts. The execution of this research will occur over a period of three months, which will involve intensive reading of a wide variety of both male and female contemporary American authors, as well as the reading of a number of non-fiction critical essays on feminism, pre-existing critical analysis of the fictional works and contemporary essays. At the end of the research period, a paper approximately twenty pages in length will display my findings and unveil whether the portrayal of women in contemporary American literature is truly realism or misogyny.