VFA Recommended Books



The Creation of Feminist Consciousness

A pioneer in women's studies and long-term activist for women's issues, and a past president of the Organization of American Historians, Gerda Lerner is one of the founders and foremost scholars of Women's History.

The Creation of Patriarchy, the first book in her two-volume Women and History Series (1986) received wide review attention and much acclaim, winning the prestigious Joan Kelly Prize of the American Historical Association for the best work on Women's History that year. Ms. hailed the book for providing "a grand historical framework that was impossible even to imagine before the enlightenment about women's place in the world provided by her earlier work and that of other feminist scholars."

New Directions for Women said it "may well be the most important work in feminist theory to appear in our generation." Patriarchy traced the development of the ideas, symbols, and metaphors by which men institutionalized their domination of women. Now, in 
The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, the eagerly awaited concluding volume of the Women and History Series, Lerner documents the twelve-hundred-year struggle of women to free their minds from patriarchal thought, to create Women's History, and to achieve a feminist consciousness. Lerner argues that the millennia-old educational disadvantaging of women and their marginalization in the intellectual life of Western civilization retarded women's ability to comprehend their condition and to define their needs as a group. She shows the devastating impact on women's psychology of notions of their innate mental inferiority, reinforced generation after generation by the teachings of family, church, and state. Through examining over a thousand years of feminist biblical criticism, Lerner illustrates her most important insight - the discontinuity of Women's History. The generation to generation transmission of knowledge on which the building of civilization rests did not work for women. Because they did not know its history.

Contact Gerda Lerner: glerner@facstaff.wisc.edu

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