Death In A Tenured Position: A Feminist Analysis

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At first glance, all of Heilbrun 's tests for androgynous narrative structures fail, chiefly because men only play minor roles in the story. Death in a Tenured Position is a feminist novel rather than an androgynous one, as the reader is presented with only a female hero to identify with (cf. Heilbrun 58). While several characters, such as Kate, Janet, and Moon, exhibit androgynous qualities, it does not bring them any salvation. Janet 's vision of androgyny is a deception by an oppressive system; Kate and Moon are misfits, even if they are more comfortable in this role. Neither of them manages to bring about any change at Harvard.
However, observations made by Jaidka admit a different reading in which androgyny and feminism are neither equaled nor mutually exclusive. She points out that the traditional 'whodunnit ' is coined by male writers and male detectives (16). By combining the 'whodunnit ' with the feminist novel Heilbrun creates what Maier calls “feminist detective fiction” (18), which can be understood as an androgynous genre. Jaidka notes that feminism becomes more prominent throughout the Kate Fansler series: “Cross begins by accepting genre conventions, but each successive novel shows her diminishing commitment to classic detective novel and her growing interest in feminist issues” (16). This argument is reinforced by Maier 's
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The prologue features excerpts of letters by men to men. They disclose the different ways in which misogyny manifests itself in the Harvard English Department, such as stereotypes of feminist women (2), fear of hysteria (3) and the inability to take the academic work of women seriously (ibid.). Not all authors fear the employment of women as professors equally, but young professors such as Andy Sladovski are at the bottom of the Harvard hierarchy and not yet able to cause any change in the higher ranks of the

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