Subject to Negotiation: Reading Feminist Criticism and American Women’s Fictions

Subject to Negotiation

University of Virginia Press, 1997


In Subject to Negotiation, Elaine Neil Orr proposes negotiation as both a state of consciousness and a significant movement for women writers as well as feminist critics. Challenging the “subversive” model of feminist criticism, she argues for the importance of negotiation for feminist practice within a plurality of critical positions and identities. Without claiming the final word- indeed calling for more words on the subject- Orr sketches an empirical method for a negotiating feminist critcism and then in successive chapters demonstrates the method at work.

Praise for Subject to Negotiation

“Subject to Negotiation is a breakthrough book. It charts feminist critical terrain today and the historical process by which feminists have come to occupy an important place in American literary studies. Elaine Orr is a tough-minded and perceptive critic.”
Dale Bauer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Subject to Negotiation insightfully explores an important means by which women have interpreted both literature and life. It’s own going-between of ‘conflicting and imperfect cultural fields’ opens up new lines of vision with contemporary feminist criticism.”
Laura E. Donaldson, Cornell University

Tillie Olsen and a Feminist Spiritual Vision

Tillie Olsen

University of Mississippi Press, 1987


Elaine Orr concentrates upon Olsen’s characters who have “not as yet realized” yearnings. Tillie Olsen’s portraits of weary workers and mothers, of children, of a dying sailor, and of a black church worker express her enduring hope for transformation and fulfillment and convey the central meaning of her work-the miracle and sanctity of each human life. Thus this first book-length study of Tillie Olsen is a religious interpretation showing a woman-centered world that intertwines the religious and the material and produces Olsen’s vision of holiness.

Praise for Tillie Olsen and a Feminist Spiritual Vision

“An important study of Olsen that introduces us to a new dimension of her work, that is, to its spiritual and theological significance.”
Deborah Rosenfelt, University of Maryland

“Orr’s work makes a significant contribution . . . a comprehensive but detailed study of Olsen’s writing.”
Blanche Gelfant, Dartmouth College