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Scholars Day: April 9, 2014

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Arrested Development: The Myth of Evolution in Alcott's "Little Women"

Literary critics have often argued that an element of feminist rhetoric exists within Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women. Women’s movement advocates would encourage Jo’s consideration as a model for the alteration of feminine identity in the nineteenth century. "Arrested Development" explores Barbara Welter’s "Cult of True Womanhood" article and Alcott’s newly created, gender-specific novel as it examines the cast of “little women” regarding gender norms and expectations. This paper discusses Alcott’s finished manuscript as merely dabbling in the progressive stages of transformation for a new model of womanhood, and examines how the author falls back on the “dominant culture’s” expected construct for femininity. In a close reading of the text and critical sources on femininity, gender-specific adolescent literature, and Alcott’s own life and work, this paper examines the characters, Marmee and her girls specifically, with regard to expected gender roles and argues against this classic novel as a feminist narrative.

Please note that presentation times are approximate. If you are interested in attending sessions with multiple presentations, please be in the room at the start of the session.
Presenter: Julie Oyer (Graduate Student)
Topic: English
Location: 219 Hartwell
Time: 1:35 pm Session III