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Reconsidering Flannery O'Connor$
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Alison Arant and Jordan Cofer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496831798

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496831798.001.0001

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Silence, Scalpels, and Loupes: Reconsidering O’Connor as Sylvia Plath’s Contemporary

Silence, Scalpels, and Loupes: Reconsidering O’Connor as Sylvia Plath’s Contemporary

Chapter:
(p.197) Silence, Scalpels, and Loupes: Reconsidering O’Connor as Sylvia Plath’s Contemporary
Source:
Reconsidering Flannery O'Connor
Author(s):

Lindsey Alexander

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496831798.003.0013

In an approach that is closer to a work of creative writing than to conventional criticism, Poet Lindsey Alexander compares O’Connor’s and Plath’s reception as women writers. This essay is something of an anomaly in the collection since it relies on elements of the personal essay, asks more questions than it answers, and uses anecdotal evidence. However, we see it as an essential demonstration of the volume’s commitment to a broad reconsideration of O’Connor, which includes exploring how she affects current writers and their work and practices. Alexander examines O’Connor and Plath as a way to consider how female authors are received by a male readership and identifies several similarities between the two authors—who are rarely regarded in tandem—and one striking difference: the perceived masculinity of O’Connor’s violent subject matter and the assumed femininity of Plath’s subject matter. Alexander uses these two gendered designations to raise the question: why one and not the other? 

Keywords:   Sylvia Plath, Women writers, Reception history, Gender and expectations, Reader response

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