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Sleeping With the Boss

Female Subjectivity and Narrative Pattern in Robert Penn Warren

by Lucy Ferriss

Southern Literary Studies

156 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Literature - American

  Hardcover / 9780807121399 / April 1997

Sleeping with the Boss opens up the feminist critical project by showing that author gender has no bearing on the creation of feminine-structured narrative. Moreover, by exposing a considerable “female consciousness” in the major fictional works of Robert Penn Warren, Lucy Ferriss’ perceptive examination departs dramatically from previous criticism of Warren.

Ferriss expands on narrative poetics to suggest that female subjectivity is the central concept in defining a woman’s narrative and asserts that such female consciousness may permeate the writing of men as well as women.

Warren’s novels reveal the consistent pattern of a major woman character in a liaison with a wealthy or powerful man; those sexual relationships, Ferriss maintains, are pivotal in establishing female personae whose effect on the narrative overturns conventional readings of the novels’ meaning. For example, she presents a startlingly subversive analysis of the character Amantha Starr (Band of Angels), heretofore viewed as a simpering victim by critics.

Sleeping with the Boss represents a new generation of Warren scholarship, offering a wide range of new ways to encounter his female characters. 

Lucy Ferriss is assistant professor of English and creative writing at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. She is the author of three novels, Against Gravity, The Gated River, and Philip's Girl.

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