Reading the Second and Third Feminist Waves: The Unwavering Importance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Hidden Face of Eve, and Wild Swans for Contemporary Feminists
Waard, J. de
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This thesis argues why reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Hidden Face of Eve by Nawal El Saadawi, and Wild Swans by Jung Chang is relevant, even urgent, for contemporary feminism. I explore why reading autobiographical works that were published during earlier feminist waves and written by women from marginalised positions is important for the current feminist movement. I first discuss feminist and literary theories and introduce relevant terms and definitions in the “Theoretical Framework,” before continuing with a discussion of the genre of autobiography in relation to feminism in Chapter One. In Chapter Two, I explore Caged Bird, Hidden Face, and Wild Swans with regard to contemporary feminism by discussing the wave narrative and relevant topics discussed in the books. Chapter Three revolves around the personal experiences of Angelou, Saadawi, and Chang and analyses how their experiences differ from those most often represented in mainstream feminism. These chapters all support the belief that these autobiographical narratives are not restricted to being regarded as significant in one specific time period. Moreover, the chapters demonstrate that the experiences of women that write from the periphery are especially important for contemporary feminism’s understanding of “intersectionality,” which raises awareness to the different axes that are involved with the gender discrimination against women on both local and global levels.