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A Very Different StoryStudies on the Fiction of Charlotte Perkins Gilman$
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Val Gough and Jill Rudd

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780853235910

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780853235910.001.0001

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Gender and Industry in Herland: Trees as a Means of Production and Metaphor

Gender and Industry in Herland: Trees as a Means of Production and Metaphor

(p.100) Gender and Industry in Herland: Trees as a Means of Production and Metaphor
A Very Different Story

Alex Shishin

Liverpool University Press

In her 1915 novel Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman devotes an entire chapter to the religion of her all-woman utopia but offers no clues as to industry and political economy. This creates contradictions and ambiguities, especially with respect to the actual level of industrial development and the nature of governance in Herland. This chapter examines gender and some of the political and economic theories that underpin Herland, along with its depiction of an all-female utopia. It argues that there is an ambivalence towards technology in the novel, as well as teasing gaps and absences in the narrative regarding precise methods of production. To convey her theories of production indirectly, Gilman exploits the literal and metaphorical meanings of forestry, which the chapter suggests is an industry suitable to her political and economic vision.

Keywords:   utopia, Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, industrial development, political economy, technology, theories of production, forestry, gender

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