Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay, 1960-2001 (Composition, Literacy, and Culture) (Hardcover)

Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay, 1960-2001 (Composition, Literacy, and Culture) By Ann Jurecic Cover Image
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How Five Prominent Women Writers Reshaped the Essay in the Late Twentieth Century

In Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay, 1960–2000, Ann Jurečič documents the work of five paradigm-shifting essayists who transformed American thought about urgent political issues. Rachel Carson linked science and art to explain how pesticides threatened the Earth’s ecosystems. Hannah Arendt redefined “evil” for a secular age after Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem. Susan Sontag’s interest in the intersection of politics and aesthetics led her to examine the ethics of looking at photographs of suffering. Joan Didion became a political essayist when she questioned how rhetoric and sentimental narratives corrupted democratic ideals. Patricia J. Williams continues to write about living under a justice system that has attempted to neutralize race, gender, and the meaning of history. These writers reacted to the stressors of the late twentieth century and in response reshaped the essay for their own purposes in profound ways. With this volume, Jurečič begins to correct the longstanding dearth of scholarly studies on the importance of women and their political essays—works that continue to be relevant more than two decades into the twenty-first century. 

About the Author

Ann Jurečič is associate professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is the author of Illness as Narrative, coauthor of Habits of the Creative Mind, and associate editor for the journal Literature and Medicine.  

Praise For…

"Jurečič’s prose is lucid and direct, and her analyses breathe new life into her subjects’ works. It’s a stimulating take on five estimable essayists."
Publishers Weekly

“Jurečič’s nuanced readings are gripping, selective, and provide momentum to her overarching stories. Even those who are deeply familiar with these essayists’ works will find much to learn from the intertextual conversations she shapes in this book.” —Nicole B. Wallack, Columbia University 

“Ann Jurečič’s Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay makes an essential contribution to essay studies in helping us understand the role of gender and race in the twentieth-century development of the genre. . . . Juxtaposing five brilliant writers who are not often all read together, Jurečič opens up new ways to think about the historical role—and future possibilities—of the political essay in American culture.”
Dara Rossman Regaignon, New York University 

“This is a timely and relevant volume. Jurečič’s exploration of twentieth and twenty-first century women’s political essays is both lucid and relevant—a fresh examination of brilliant writing helpful for readers interested in literary activism from threats to the climate to autocracy. Jurečič’s probing analysis of five essayists—Rachel Carson, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Patricia Williams—helps us to see the enormous contribution these writers have made to current modes of enquiry. Each writer explored here experimented with the form of the essay to advocate for much-needed change. With characteristic sagacity, Jurečič helps us to appreciate their accomplishments and to see each anew. An important contribution.” —Amy Boesky, Boston College 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780822947974
ISBN-10: 0822947978
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: December 26th, 2023
Pages: 248
Language: English
Series: Composition, Literacy, and Culture