Feminism's Progress

Gender Politics in British and American Literature and Television since 1830

By Carol Colatrella

Subjects: Women's Studies, Literary Criticism, Mass Media, Literary History
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Hardcover : 9781438493930, 368 pages, August 2023
Paperback : 9781438493947, 368 pages, February 2024

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Table of contents

Introduction: Feminist Literary Criticism, Liberation, and Social Change

1. Feminist Information and the Novel as Information System

2. Liberty and Suffrage in Nineteenth-Century Narratives

3. Feminist Marriage and the Academic Novel

4. Feminism Meets Science in Recent Narratives

5. Reproductive Independence and Collectivity

6. Overcoming Violence against Women

7. Feminist Politics in Fiction


Explores how popular novels, short stories, and television shows from the United States and Britain illustrate the positive effects of feminism and promote gender equity.


Feminism's Progress builds on more than fifty years of feminist criticism to analyze narrative representations of feminist ideas about women's social roles, gender inequities, and needed reforms. Carol Colatrella argues that popular novels, short stories, and television shows produced in the United States and Britain — from Little Dorrit and Iola Leroy to Call the Midwife and The Closer — foster acceptance of feminism by optimistically illustrating its prospects and promises. Scholars, students, and general readers will appreciate the book's sweeping introduction to a host of concerns in feminist theory while applying a gender lens to a wide range of literature and media from the past two centuries. In exploring how individuals and communities might reduce bias and discrimination and ensure gender equity, these fictions serve as both a measure and a means of feminism's progress.

Carol Colatrella is Professor of Literature and Codirector of the Center for Women, Science, and Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is the coeditor (with Joseph Alkana) of Cohesion and Dissent in America, also published by SUNY Press.


"This book is a remarkably comprehensive survey of feminocentric novels and television series that offer personal and systemic responses to the continuing oppression of women. Colatrella pulls together dozens of disparate texts to argue that many popular works from the nineteenth century to the present have been promoting feminist principles in ways that must certainly have affected public attitudes toward and understanding of gender discrimination. Feminism's Progress offers a hopeful outlook on the potential for literature and media to bring about positive change in real-world gender politics." — Robyn R. Warhol, coeditor of Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions