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 magnum opus Women and History (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 Women and History, 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. In a richly documented narrative filled with inspiring portraits of women, Lerner ranges from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century, tracing several important ways by which women strove for autonomy and equality. One of the most remarkable sections examines over twelve hundred years of feminist Bible criticism. Since objections to women's thinking, teaching, and speaking in public were based on biblical authority--most notably, passages from Genesis and the writings of St. Paul--women returned again and again to these texts, in an attempt to subvert patriarchal dominance and establish their equality with men. This survey of biblical criticism allows Lerner to illustrate her most important insight--the discontinuity of women's history. She describes how women's history was not passed on from generation to generation, forcing women in effect to reinvent the wheel over and over again. In a series of fascinating portraits of individual women who resisted patriarchal indoctrination, Lerner discusses women mystics such as Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and later Protestant mystics, and brings to life the many women of great literary talent, from Christine de Pisan to Louise Labe to Emily Dickinson, who simply bypassed patriarchal thought and created alternate worlds for themselves.
Documenting the 1,200 year struggle of women to free their minds from patriarchal thought, create a women's history, and achieve a feminist consciousness, this brilliant work charts new ground for feminist theory, the history of ideas, and the development of women's place in our intellectual tradition.
"[The] material is valuable."--Molly Wertheimer, Pennsylvania State University
"Great book."--Alison Hirsch, Penn State, Harrisburg
"An essential document of the centuries of struggle that lie beneath the assumptions of cultural and political entitlement American women take for granted today."--San Francisco Chronicle
"Powerful...exemplary in several senses of the word..."--Katherine Gill, The New York Times Book Review
"Gerda Lerner's prodigious efforts at putting raw history on the table ensure that her discoveries won't suffer from the obscurity that plagued pre-modern 'feminist' research. Her 'big-picture' revision of how we see the past should remain one of the enduring achievements by a contemporary American historian."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"In this wise, wonderful book, Gerda Lerner follows in the footsteps of her scholarly foremothers, but with a poignant difference. The thinking women before her, denied an intellectual tradition for twelve hundred years, thought and wrote in isolation. Looking back in righteous and rightful indignation, Lerner remedies the very tragedy she analyses. Everyone who thinks about women's thinking should read this book, discover our heritage, and contemplate its
interruptions."--Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University
"Splendid....This sharp, incisive book concludes the work Lerner so well began in The Creation of Patriarchy. Together they make up a vital contribution to women's studies."--Booklist
"Lerner documents the 1,200-year struggle of women to free their minds from patriarchal though, create women's history, and achieve a feminist consciousness."--Feminist Bookstore News
"Impressive."--The Milwaukee Journal
"Based on wide-ranging research....Lively and provocative."--Library Journal
"Densely researched, accessible and engrossing conclusion to Lerner's two-volume study Women in History....Lerner helped pioneer the study of women and history and remains preeminent in the field."--Publishers Weekly
"Gerda Lerner has done it again. This extraordinary work is the perfect antidote to anyone who still believes that feminism is a recent (or North American) phenomenon. The scholarship is, as usual, superb--and is equalled by Lerner's elegant yet accessible style. Once again, Gerda Lerner gives women back our history."--Robin Morgan, author
"A pioneering study of the utmost importance which allows us to experience the tragedy and the triumph of women who attempted over the centuries to understand their situation and their history. This work is bound to have enduring influence and may well be Gerda Lerner's most significant contribution yet."--Lawrence W. Levine, Margaret Byrne Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
"Admirable fulfill[s] [Lerner's] fundamental aims....Argues powerfully for the kind of history...that will encompass women along with men in a truly "usable past."--The Women's Review of Books
"Gerda Lerner commands respect....[The Creation of Feminist Consciousness] is intelligent, individualistic, engaging, and quirky....Provide[s] many useful insights....Each chapter of this book ends with a brilliant and thought-provoking conclusion....The sheer wealth of information Lerner presents is impressive and her scholarly mastery, astonishing....[It is] a book worth reading for its insights and breath-taking mastery....Lerner is without doubt a treasure
of feminist scholarship."--Culturefront