Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Favorite Feminist Authors by Gudrun Mouw



My Favorite Feminist Authors by Gudrun Mouw 

After I finished graduate school, I spent many months in the university library on days when I didn't have a substitute teaching job and before I was hired as a college English Instructor. I was fascinated by biographies and autobiographies. Of course, I was particularly interested in women writers about whom biographies, essays, commentaries and critiques had been written. There was never enough material available as far as I was concerned.

FROM ASHES INTO LIGHT by Gudrun Mouw
I read everything I could that was connected to Emily Bronte and Virginia Woolf, who by the very fact that they wrote world class novels at that time, were incredibly audacious feminists. There wasn't much of a precedent, other than Jane Austen, about whom little is known regarding her personal life. I also very much admired the penetrating and sometimes scathing Katherine Anne Porter.

I wanted to know what had gone before. I wanted to understand the roots of feminine fiction. I had been interested in the genre a long time, but what had women fiction writers before me experienced? When I began a novel before I wrote From Ashes Into Light, I was struggling with plot. I was struggling with my characters and settings. I wondered if other women novelists had dealt with such challenges.

My studies taught me that women have not had it easy in the literary field of fiction. Each has had her own unique struggles. That was encouraging for me somehow; also, it has been helpful to realize that there has been growth. More women are publishing fiction than ever before.

These days, I enjoy the Anita Diamant novels, Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, Karin Gastreich, to name a few. I may have the contrary belief that there is really no special requirement needed for Feminist Fiction, other than that the work be written by a woman. There has been so little historically available, every woman writing in the novel genre serves to help create more feminine voices in the literary world.

About the Author

Gudrun Mouw was born in East Prussia (formerly part of Germany) in 1944. At the age of 7, she arrived in the United States as a displaced person. Mouw moved many times in the US before ending up in California in the 60s. There she studied at San Jose State University, receiving her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1969. Mouw has worked as a college English teacher, a Stanford librarian, a columnist, a California poet-in-the-school, as well as a yoga and meditation teacher. She lives in Santa Barbara County, California and has for over thirty years.

Mouw wrote From Ashes Into Light beginning with a research trip to various locations in Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria and Switzerland (in the 1990s). Her research took her places like Dachau, the concentration camp, a Jewish graveyard in Prague, and the streets of Salzburg.

Mouw is a prolific and award-winning poet and her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Praire Schooner, Practical Mystic, The Chariton Review and others. Her collection of poetry called Wife of the House was published in April 2014. Mouw won first place in a short fiction contest at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 1992. From Ashes into Light will be her first published novel.

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