Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Amy K. Levin  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: New Delhi, India

-- Website --
-- Amy K. Levin on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Professor Levin has lived in Illinois since 1995, first in DeKalb and now in DuPage County.

Biographical and Professional Information

Amy K. Levin is Director of Women's Studies, and Professor of English. She has taught classes in Woman's Studies, Aftican-American Literature, and British Literature.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Suppressed Sister: A Relationship in Novels by Nineteenth- And Twentieth-Century British Women
ISBN: 083875211X

Bucknell Univ Pr. 1992

Contentious behavior among biological sisters frequently contradicts ideals of sisterhood in novels by women. Additionally, feminist criticism, focusing on almost every imaginable relationship involving women, has all but ignored sisters. Amy K. Levin's The Suppressed Sister studies these circumstances, their causes and consequences. How and why is the sister bond suppressed in favor of sisterhood?
Answers to this question may be found in female psychology, social expectations, and patriarchal myths and stories. The tales of Cinderella and Psyche are paradigmatic, providing models of female competition and inscribing a conclusion that replaces sisterly closeness with heterosexual romance.
Jane Austen's sister plot is based on these models. Her characters divide into pairs and adopt complementary personalities, but polarization does not erase competition instead, marriage erects social and economic barriers which enforce role divisions.
In Wives and Daughters, Cranford, and The Life of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell shows the danger of too close an attachment to the paternal home. She, too, emphasizes differences, revealing how they ultimately lead siblings to seek a sisterhood outside the family.
In Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda, George Eliot paints increasingly negative portraits of sisters, indicating that female siblings create differences where few or none exist. These denials of similarity heighten the heroines' isolation.
Twentieth-century novelists, including Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Margaret Drabble, revise their predecessors' texts, drafting a plot "after" the father's. They reject rules governing female behavior and question the expectation that women must get along with one another.
Finally, Emma Tennant's Bad Sister, together with several recent American novels, abandons the conventions of the realistic novel, challenging the very concept of character. Tennant undermines all distinctions, including those that treat sisters as separate individuals and those that classify certain behaviors as "good" or "bad."
These novels show a progression that has been ignored or suppressed by feminist critics, many of whom long for an idyll of sisterhood inherited from nineteenth-century portraits of the "angel in the house." In denying anger or antagonism, women cut off a part of themselves, just as Cinderella's stepsisters amputate their toes to fit in her brittle glass slipper. Levin's book questions the rationale behind such self-destruction.

Africanism and Authenticity in African-American Women's Novels
ISBN: 0813026318

University Press of Florida. 2003

Africanism and Authenticity traces the continuing influence of West African women's traditions and societies on late-twentieth-century literature by African-American women. The first half of the book focuses on how these influences permeate both theme and imagery in novels by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, and Gloria Naylor. The second half focuses on recent neo-slave narratives as works that sprang from the African experience rather than works that merely parallel the original slave narratives. Levin is one of the first writers to discuss Toni Morrison's Paradise and Gloria Naylor's Men of Brewster Place. Amy Levin's study is the first to focus so explicitly on the importance of West African women's traditions in contemporary writing by African-American women. Levin challenges feminist studies of these writings by revealing the extent to which those studies remain Eurocentric, even as they question Afrocentric readings that draw only on African male traditions as if they were the same as women's practices. In addressing these issues, Africanism and Authenticity helps to refine the current discussion of literary authenticity and documents a distinctive tradition that



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