Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

[Return to MetaPerspective]

Friday, September 28, 2007

Feminist Perspective on History

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich - New York Times:
The title of this newly released book is from an observation Ulrich made in a 1976 article for American Quarterly in which she noted all that is known about colonial women comes from the funeral eulogies written about them. Ulrich's comment became a famous quotation often printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers. This slogan presents a critical truth:
Much of what is characterized as female “misbehavior” is a matter of voice — of a woman insisting she be heard, paid not only attention, but also the respect due a being as fully human and necessary as a man.

In this review of Ulrich's book Kathryn Harrison says that Ulrich uses three classic feminist works to examine the theme of "bad" behavior:

  1. "Book of the City of Ladies" written by Christsine de Pizan in 1405
  2. "Eighty Years and More" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, published in 1898
  3. "A Room of One's Own," based on two lectures delivered by Virginia Woolf in 1928

In her examination, Harrison says, Ulrich "brings a female sensibility to what is more typically the linear, cause-and-effect formula of history, a majority of which, Ulrich points out, is written by men."

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