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Abstract

This article employs insights from contemporary theories of ethical reading to conduct a case study of feminist critics’ reaction to the queerness of modernist women’s writing. My aim is to develop a set of practices and principles for ethically responding to queerness in literary texts and everyday life, as well as contribute feminist acumen to the current claim that the humanities are the best site to train students how to do justice to texts. The introduction utilizes theories of ethical reading set forth by Jane Gallop and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to develop a preliminary framework of ethical response. The subsequent section provides a historical overview of feminist critics’ reaction to the queerness of modernist women’s literature. I then take my preliminary framework “into the field” to see what it can tell us about how Marianne DeKoven and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar react toward one type of queerness: Gertrude Stein’s experimental language. In my conclusion, I employ the knowledge gained from this analysis along with my theoretical framework to offer feminist insights to the contemporary claim that the humanities are the optimal location to teach ethical reading.

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