In reading the recent work of three preeminent feminist literary and cultural studies scholars—Imani Perry, Susan Fraiman, and Leigh Gilmore—I am struck by the fact that they are all invested in a critical reanimation of what we might call, drawing on terminology from Gilmore, tainted key terms and concepts, namely, patriarchy (Perry), domesticity (Fraiman), and women’s testimony (Gilmore). All three books are ambitious projects that emerge out of literary studies but move beyond the literary to ask substantive interdisciplinary questions about both world historical events and everyday experiences. All three also demonstrate innovative reading practices for moving critically between macro- and microstructures and provide many examples of how formal experimentation can create new social and political imaginaries.

Let me begin with Perry’s Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation because its critical reanimation challenge is perhaps the most daunting and audacious of the...

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