Offering a strikingly original treatment of feminist literature, "Popular Feminist Fiction as American Allegory "argues that feminist novels served as a means of narrating and negotiating the perceived decline of American progress after the 1960s. Elliott analyzes popular tropes ranging from the white middle class housewife trapped in endless domestic labor to the woman of color haunted by a traumatic past--exploring the way in which feminist narratives represented women as unable to access positive futures. In a powerful new reading of temporality in contemporary fiction, Elliott posits that feminism's image of women trapped in time operated as a potent allegory for the apparent breakdown of futurity in postmodernity.
"By charting the modes of temporality structuring post-1960s women's popular fiction, Elliott offers an illuminating way of articulating the narratives of second-wave feminism to evolving conceptions of capitalist America. Her argument that these narratives are, first and foremost, national allegories gives them a refreshing intelligibility and historical agency. It's the kind of argument with which, whether or not they agree with her, future generations of scholars will need to reckon." - Rey Chow, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Brown University and author of Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films
"In this impressive debut, Jane Elliott revisits a fascinating passage in recent American culture, when feminism could advance through popular fiction and critical theory alike. She examines a series of novels both famous and forgotten, unfolding their allegorical layers to show how they speak directly to the changing contours of domination and liberation in women s lives. The book offers timely lessons, not only about the renewable resources of popular cultural forms, but also about the value of allegorical reading for contemporary critical practice." - Richard Dienst, Department of English, Rutgers University