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November 17, 2005

Comments

Susanne Dunlap

Great post, Dr. Sue. I would add to that another observation: in the world of historical fiction, that written by men is somehow allowed to transcend the classification of "historical romance," whereas even works by women who do not fall into that category are assumed to belong there whether they do or not. It's infuriating.

Susan O'Doherty

Susanne, that is a fascinating point. It would be surprising to find Gore Vidal, Edward P. Jones, and Shakespeare shelved under "historical romance," wouldn't it?

katharine weber

Jonathan Franzen's Corrections would be considered a "domestic novel," had it been written by a woman, I am pretty sure. (Also the talking turd episode would have been edited out, but boys will be boys.)

Dr.Sue

That's true, Katharine. Much of Chekhov, too, I think.

Diane davis

But now, isn't it far more women that write for children than men? Look at the conferences. Women out number men by amazing numbers.... I've known several who have written under their initials rather than let out that this was another book written by a woman.
It seems to me that I've heard many people say that the tide has turned and that the complaint is that there aren't enough books focused towards boys or with boys as the main character.
"And the disparity begins early: the majority of children’s books are geared toward a male readership."

Are you talking here about older novels, historical fiction or what? I just can't see it being so for picture books or board books.

Dr.Sue

Diane, another writer voiced a similar objection on Readerville. The two surveys on children's literature I linked to confirm my own experience as a parent, that the "standard" kids' books (starting with Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc., up through The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Holes, and now Eragon, are fairly andocentric. It's amazing, though, how easy it is to find data backing up one's own preconceptions. I'd love to hear more about your experiences, and other readers'.

Hank

It's interesting to note that the National Endowment of Art's "Reading at Risk" study showed that women are considerably more likely than men to read literature. It may be that male writers will need to begin writing more about the subjects that have traditionally been the purview of women in order to be read in the future.

The Happy Feminist

This post has been featured on the Carnival of Feminists at

http://happyfeminist.typepad.com/happyfeminist/2005/12/holly_at_self_p.html

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