Josephine Donovan

Josephine Donovan is the author of ten books of nonfiction and the editor of five. A complete list of her publications is provided below. Her fields of specialization include animal ethics, feminist criticism and theory, American women’s literature (especially nineteenth-century), and early modern women’s literature. Her work has been translated into eight languages (Japanese, French, Turkish, Swedish, German, Italian, Greek, Finnish, and Chinese).

Her most recent books include The Lexington Six:  Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020)—a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; Animals, Mind, and Matter: The Inside Story (Michigan State University Press, 2022); The Aesthetics of Care: On the Literary Treatment of Animals (Bloomsbury 2016), European Local-Color Literature: National Tales, Dorfgeschichten, Romans Champêtres (2010), and The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics, co-edited with Carol J. Adams (2007). Of The Aesthetics of Care a Choice reviewer wrote (January 2017): “This extraordinary work, written by a master teacher, is a remarkable achievement.”  In endorsing Animals, Mind, and Matter, Vasile Stanescu wrote:  “I cannot recommend this text highly enough.” Two of her books have been named “Outstanding Academic Books” by Choice journal (Feminist Theory and Women and the Rise of the Novel). The latter was termed “a work of extraordinary significance” by the Choice reviewer, who wrote, “Donovan has defined the field clearly, forthrightly, often brilliantly. All future discussion of the subject begins here” (October 2000). In 2013 a second edition with two new chapters was published.

Donovan’s best-known book, Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions, first published in 1985, is now in its fourth edition (New York: Continuum, 2012). notes, “this book has established itself as the classic survey and analysis of the roots and development of feminist theory.” A selection of other reviews of Donovan’s books follows below.

Born in Manila in 1941, Donovan was evacuated from the Philippines with her mother a few months before Pearl Harbor. Her father, a Captain in the U. S. Army, remained in the Philippines where he was captured by the Japanese in 1942, remaining a P.O.W. for the duration. His memoirs, edited by his daughter, were recently published as P.O.W. in the Pacific: Memoirs of an American Doctor in World War II.

She graduated, cum laude, from Bryn Mawr College in 1962 with a major in history, after spending her Junior Year in Europe. After graduation she worked as a Copy Desk clerk at The Washington Postand Time Magazine and as a general assignment reporter on a small newspaper in upstate New York. During this period she completed a course in Creative Writing at Columbia University.

She received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967 and 1971, respectively. She has held academic positions at several universities and worked for a time as a Copy Editor for G. K. Hall in Boston. She recently retired early from her position as Professor of English (tenured) at the University of Maine, Orono, in order to devote full time to her writing and research.



Animals, Mind, and Matter:  The Inside Story. East Lansing:  Michigan State University Press, 2022.

The Lexington Six:  Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America. Amherst/Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2020.

The Aesthetics of Care: On the Literary Treatment of Animals. New York: Bloomsbury 2016.

The Piscataqua Papers (a juvenile mystery novel). Portsmouth, NH: Piscataqua Press, 2016.

Women and the Rise of the Novel, 1405-1726.  Revised and Expanded Second Edition.  New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. (First Edition. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.) Named an “Outstanding Academic Book” by Choice.

Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions. Fourth edition. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012. (Third edition. New York: Continuum, 2000; Second edition. New York: Continuum, 1992; First edition. New York: Ungar, 1985). Named an “Outstanding Academic Book” by Choice.

European Local-Color Literature: National Tales, Dorfgeschichten, Romans Champêtres. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Evil, Affliction, and Redemptive Love. Boston: Twayne, 1991. Revised edition. Cybereditions, 2001.

Gnosticism in Modern Literature: A Study of Selected Works of Camus, Sartre, Hesse, and Kafka. New York: Garland, 1990.

After the Fall: The Demeter-Persephone Myth in Wharton, Cather and Glasgow. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989.

New England Local Color Literature: A Women’s Tradition. New York: Ungar, 1983.

Sarah Orne Jewett. New York: Ungar, 1980. Revised edition. Cybereditions, 2001.

Books Edited

The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. (Co-edited with Carol J. Adams)

P. O. W. in the Pacific: Memoirs of an American Doctor in World War II by William N. Donovan.. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1998.

Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals. New York: Continuum, 1996. (Co-edited with Carol J. Adams).

Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995. (Co-edited with Carol J. Adams).

Feminist Literary Criticism: Explorations in Theory. Second edition. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1989. First edition. 1975.


 “Ethical Mimesis and Emergence Aesthetics.” In Ethics and Literary Practice, ed. Adam Zachary Newton.  Basel, CH: MDPI, 2020; also in Humanities 8, no. 2 (2019).

 “The Committee” (short story). Mobius 30, no. 3 (Fall 2019).

“La Littérature de la couleur locale et les nations culturelles.” Romantisme, no. 181 (2018).

“The Jewish Literary Tradition in Heidegger’s Heimat.” Orbis Litterarum 173, no. 3 (June 2018).

“Subjects of a Life, Entelechy, and Intrinsic Teleology.” Between the Species 21, no. 1 (2018).

“Animal Ethics, The New Materialism, and the Question of Subjectivity.” In Critical Animal Studies: Towards Trans-Species Social Justice, ed. Atsuko Matsuka and John Sorenson. London and Lanham, MD: Routledge & Littlefield, 2018.

“Local-Color Literature and Cultural Nations.” In Other Capitals of the Nineteenth Century: An Alternative Mapping of Literary and Cultural Space, ed Richard Hibbitt.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

“Interspecies Dialogue and Animal Ethics:  The Feminist Care Perspective.” In The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, ed. Linda Kalof.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2015.

“‘Becoming Men’ and Animal Sacrifice: Contemporary Literary Examples.” In Creatural Fictions:  Human-Animal Relationship in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature, ed. David Herman. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

“The Problem of Evil: Campus 1968.” Tikkun, Fall 2015.

“Pest Control” (short story). Between the Species 18, no. 1 (August 2015).

“Caring for Earth and Her Creatures.” In Animals and the Environnment: Advocacy, Activism, and the Quest for Common Ground, ed. Lisa Kammerer. Abington, England; Routledge, 2015.

“Participatory Epistemology, Sympathy, and Animal Ethics.” In Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth, ed. Carol J. Adams and Lori Gruen. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.

“Ecofeminist Revolutions.” Project Intersect 1 (2014).

“The Voice of Animals:  A Response to Recent French Care Theory in Animal Ethics.” Journal for Critical Animal Studies 11. no. 1 (2013)

“Provincial Life with Animals.” Society and Animals 21, no. 1 (2013).

“Aestheticizing Animal Cruelty.” College Literature 38, no. 4 (Fall 2010).

“The Hunt” (short story). Between the Species 10 (August 2010).

“New England Local-Color Literature: A Colonial Formation”. In A Companion to the American Short Story, ed. Alfred Bendixen and James Nagel. Chichester, Sussex, England:   Wiley/Blackwell, 2010.

“Tolstoy’s Animals,” Society and Animals 17, no. 1 (2009).

“Local-Color Literature and Modernity: The Example of Jewett.” Tamkang Review 38, no. 1 (December 2007).

“‘That All the World May Know’: Women’s ‘Defense-Narratives’ and the Early Novel.” In Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England, ed. Michelle M. Dowd and Julie A. Echerle. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007.

“Our Lot” (short story). Trivia 4 (September 2006).

“Feminism and the Treatment of Animals: From Care to Dialogue.” Signs 31, no. 2 (Winter 2006).

“At the Seashore” (short story). Between the Species 5 (2005).

“‘Miracles of Creation’: Animals in J. M. Coetzee’s Work.” Michigan Quarterly Review 43, no. 1 (Winter 2004).

“Jewett on Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Imperialism.” Colby Quarterly 38, no. 4 (December 2002).

“A Cause of Our Own.” In The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimony from Thirty Founding Mothers, ed. Florence Howe. New York: The Feminist Press, 2000.

“Women’s Masterpieces.” In Challenging Boundaries: Gender and Periodization, ed. Joyce W. Warren and Margaret Dickie. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.

“Women and the Framed-Novella: A Tradition of Their Own.” Signs 22, no. 4 (Summer 1997).

“From Avenger to Victim: Genealogy of a Renaissance Novella.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature15, no. 2 (Fall 1996).

“Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Reading the Orange.” Hypatia ll, no. 2 (Spring 1996).

“Attention to Suffering:  Sympathy as a Basis for Ethical Treatment of Animals.” Journal of Social Philosophy 27, no. 1 (Spring 1996).

“A Source for Stowe’s Ideas on Race in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” NWSA Journal 7, no. 3 (Fall 1995).

“Comment on George’s ‘Should Feminists Be Vegetarians?’” Signs 21, no. 1 (Autumn 1995).

“Jewett and Swedenborg.” American Literature 65, no. 4 (December 1993).

“Everyday Use and Moments of Being: Toward a Nondominative Aesthetic.” In Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective, ed. Hilde Hein and Carolyn Korsmeyer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

“Breaking the Sentence: Local-Color Literature and Subjugated Knowledges.” In The (Other) American Traditions, ed. Joyce Warren. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993.

“Women and the Rise of the Novel: A Feminist-Marxist Theory.” Signs 16, no. 3 (Spring 1991).

“Style and Power.” In Feminism, Bakhtin, and the Dialogic, ed. Dale Bauer and Susan Jaret McKinstry. Albany: SUNY Press, 1991.

“The Pattern of Birds and Beasts: Willa Cather and Women’s Art.” In Writing the Woman Artist, ed. Suzanne Jones. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

“Reply to [Nel] Noddings.” Signs 16, no. 2 (Winter 1991).

“Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” Signs 15, no. 2 (Winter 1990).

“Willa Cather and Women’s Literary Traditions.” In Approaches to Teaching “My Ántonia,” ed. Susan J. Rosowski. New York: MLA Publications, 1989.

“Radical Feminist Criticism” (Introduction to the Second Edition). In Feminist Literary Criticism: Explorations in Theory, 2d ed. Lexington: University of Press of Kentucky, 1989.

“A Way of One’s Own: The Writings of Sarah Orne Jewett.” In The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, ed. Donovan, Waugh, Greenberg. Augusta, Maine: Lance Tapley, 1988.

“Biographical Sketch of Sarah Orne Jewett.” In Master Smart Woman: A Portrait of Sarah Orne Jewett. Unity, Maine: North Country Press, 1988.

Letter on feminist literary criticism and deconstructionism. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 6, no. 2 (Fall 1987).

“Silence or Capitulation: Prepatriarchal ‘Mothers’ Gardens’ in Jewett and Freeman.” Studies in Short Fiction 23, no. l (Winter 1986).

“Nan Prince and the Golden Apples.” Colby Library Quarterly 22, no. l (March 1986).

“Humanities–Women’s Studies Scholarship: The Voice of the Mother.” In The Women’s Annual, no. 5, ed. Mary McFeeley. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1985.

“Sarah Orne Jewett’s Critical Theory.” In Critical Essays on Sarah Orne Jewett, ed. Gwen L. Nagel. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984.

“Toward a Women’s Poetics.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 3, nos. 1/2 (Spring/Fall 1984).

“Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism.” Denver Quarterly 17, no. 4 (Winter 1983).

“Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Feminism.” American Transcendental Quarterly 47-48 (Summer-Fall 1982).

“The Future of Feminist Criticism: A New Direction.” In Feminist Literary Criticism. Research Triangle Park, N.C.: National Humanities Center, 1981.

“The Silence Is Broken.” In Women and Language in Literature and Society, ed. Borker, Furman, and McConnell-Ginet. New York: Praeger, 1980.

“A Women’s Vision of Transcendence: A New Interpretation of the Works of Sarah Orne Jewett.”Massachusetts Review, 21, no. 2 (Summer 1980).

“The Unpublished Love Poems of Sarah Orne Jewett.” Frontiers 4, no. 3 (Fall 1979).

“Feminism and Aesthetics.” Critical Inquiry 3, no. 3 (Spring 1977).

“Critical Response.” College English 38, no. 3 (November 1976).

“Critical Re-Vision.” In Feminist Literary Criticism, ed. Donovan. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1975.

“Sexual Politics in Sylvia Plath’s Short Stories.” Minnesota Review 4 (Spring-Summer 1973).

“Feminist Style Criticism.” In Images of Women in Fiction, ed. Koppelman-Cornillon. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green Popular Press, 1972.


In Spanish. “The Voice of Animals: A Response to Recent French Care Theory in Animal Ethics.”  (“La Voz de los Animales: Una Respuesta a la Reciente teoría francesa del Cuidada en ética animal”) Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Criticos Animales 3, no. 3 (2016).

In French.  “Tolstoy’s Animals” (“Les Animaux chez Tolstoï”).  Trans.  Marceline Pauly. Online at

In Finnish.  “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” (Eläinten oileudet ja feministinen teoria”). Trans. Elisa Aaltola.  In Johdatus eläinfilosofiaan. Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2013.

In Italian.  “Feminism and the Treatment of Animals:  From Care to Dialogue” (“Dal care al dialogo: il femminismo e il trattamento degli animali”). Musi e Muse, no. 2 (2013).

In Italian.  “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” (“Diritti animali e teoria femminista”). Deportate, esuli, profughe: Revista telematica di studi sulla memoria femminile, no. 23 (2013).

In Greek.  “Attention to Suffering.” In Animals and Ethics, ed. Stauros Karageorgakes.  Thssaloniki, Greece: Antigone Centre, 2012.

In German. “Attention to Suffering” (“Aufmerksamkeit für das Leiden”). In Texte zur Tierethik, ed. Ursula Wolf. Stuttgart: Philippe Reclam, 2008.

In Chinese. “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” In Chung Wai Literary Monthly [Taipei, Taiwan] 32, no. 2 (July 2003).

In Chinese. Feminist Theory. Nanjing, China: Jiangsu People’s House, 2002.

In French. “Beyond the Net.” Faculty of Letters Periodical no. 10 (1997), Université Moulay Ismaïl, Meknès, Morocco.

In Turkish. Feminist Theory. Trans. Aksu Bora. Istanbul: Iletiim Yayincilik, 1997.

In Swedish. “Attention to Suffering.” In Djur och Människor: En antologi i djuretik, ed. Lisa Gälmark. Nora, Sweden: Nya Doxa, 1997.

In Korean. Feminist Theory. Seoul: Munye Ch’ulp’ansa, 1995.

In Japanese. Feminist Theory. Trans. Kazuko Kawachi. Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 1987.


“Women and the Rise of the Novel.” In Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, vol. 216, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau.  Detroit:  Gale, 2013.

“The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Late Writings” (from Sarah Orne Jewett). In Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 253. Detroit: Gale, 2011.

“Ellen Glasgow: Beyond Barren Ground” (from After the Fall). In Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 239. Detroit: Gale, 2010.

“Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” In Animal Rights, ed. Clare Palmer. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2008

“Feminism and the Treatment of Animals.” In The Animal Ethics Reader, 2d ed., ed. Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Botzler. London: Routledge, 2007.

“Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” In Social Creatures: Readings in Our Relationship with Other Animals, ed. Clinton Flynn. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2007; New York: Lantern, 2008.

After the Fall (in paperback). University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 2005.

“Animal Rights and Feminist Theory” (excerpts) in The Animal Ethics Reader, ed. Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Botzler. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

“Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and the Tree of Knowledge” (abridged). In Short Story Criticism, vol. 47, ed. Anja Barnard. Detroit: Gale Research, 2002.

Women and the Rise of the Novel (in paperback). New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Beyond Animal Rights (in paperback). New York: Continuum, 2000.

“Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Reading the Orange.” In Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Theory, Interpretation, Pedagogy, ed. Greta Gaard and Patrick J. Murphy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

“Women and the Rise of the Novel.” In History and Theory: Feminist Research, Debates, Contestations, ed. Barbara Laslett et al. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Evil, Affliction, and Redemptive Love. Twayne’s Masterwork Studies on CD-ROM. 1996.

“Beyond the Net.” In Contexts for Criticism, ed. Donald Keesey. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield, 1994, 1997.

“Animal Rights and Feminist Theory.” In Ecofeminism, ed. Greta Gaard. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

“Silence or Capitulation.” In Critical Essays on Mary Wilkins Freeman, ed. Shirley Marchalonis. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991.

“The Silence Is Broken.” In A Feminist Critique of Language: A Reader, ed. Deborah Cameron. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Sarah Orne Jewett, Chap. 2 (abridged). In Short Story Criticism, Vol. 6, ed. Thomas Votteler. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990.

“Beyond the Net.” In Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader, ed. K.M. Newton. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.

New England Local Color Literature (in paperback). New York: Continuum, 1988.

“Silence or Capitulation.” In Freshman English Manual and Casebook: “The White Heron,” ed. Erskine and White. Salisbury [Maryland] State University, 1988.

“Towards a Women’s Poetics.” In Feminist Issues in Literary Scholarship, ed. Shari Benstock. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

“The Unpublished Love Poems of Sarah Orne Jewett.” In Critical Essays on Sarah Orne Jewett, ed. Gwen L. Nagel. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984.

“Feminist Style Criticism.” In Female Studies VI, ed. Hoffman, Secor, Tinsley. Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1972.

Entries in Encyclopedias

“Feminism.” In The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Philosophies, ed. Constantin V. Boundas. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

“Rose Terry Cooke,” “Mary E. Wilkins Freeman,” “Elizabeth Stuart Phelps,” “Celia Thaxter,” and “Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward.” Encyclopedia of American Literature, ed. Steven R. Serafin. New York: Continuum, 1999.

“Local Colorists.” Women’s Studies Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. Literature, Arts and Learning, ed. Helen Tierney. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1990.

“Rose Terry Cooke.” Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 74. American Short Story Writers before 1880. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988.

Entries on Brilliana Harley, Lucy Hutchinson, Delariviere Manley, and Mary Russell Mitford.Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, ed. Paul and June Schleuter. New York: Garland, 1988; rpt. 1998.

Entry on Celia Thaxter. American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide, ed. Lina Mainiero. Vol. 4. New York: Ungar, 1982.

Entries on Annie Adams Fields, Louise Imogen Guiney, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Lucy Larcom.American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide, ed. Lina Mainiero. Vol. 2. New York: Ungar, 1980.


Brutal: Manhood and the Exploitation of Animals. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 84, no. 4 (Winter 2010).

Civilized Creatures. Society and Animals 15, no. 2 (2007).

The Button Box. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 25, no. 2 (Fall 2006).

Such News of the Land and In Nature’s Name. NWSA Journal 15, no. 2 (Summer 2003).

The Trauma of Gender and Twentieth-Century Women Novelists. Studies in the Novel 35, no. 1 (Spring 2003).

Animal Equality. American Journal of Semiotics 17, no. 4 (Winter 2001).

Pragmatism and Feminism. International Studies in Philosophy 33, no. 4 (2001).

Jane Barker, Exile. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 20, no. 2 (Fall 2001).

Radically Speaking and All the Rage. NWSA Journal 9, no. 3 (Fall 1997)

Conflicting Stories; Rebecca Harding Davis and American Realism; Sentimental Modernism. Signs 19, no. 1 (Autumn 1993).

Edith Wharton’s Letters from the Underworld; Edith Wharton’s Women; After the World Broke in Two; Cather Studies,Vol. 1; Free Women. Signs 18, no. 2 (Winter 1993).

The Social Construction of the Feminine Character; Feminist Challenges; Feminist Studies/Critical Studies. Signs 14, no. 1 (Autumn, 1988).

Making a Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism, ed. Gayle Greene and Coppelia Kahn.Women’s Studies Review 8, no. 6 (November-December, 1987).

Mothers of the Novel by Dale Spender; Belinda (Edgeworth); Adeline Mowbray (Opie); Female Quixote (Lennox); Self-Control (Brunton). Feminisms 1, no. 2 (Spring 1988).

Collected Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, ed. Brent L. Kendrick. Women’s Studies Review 8, no. l (January-February 1986).

Wartime Women by Karen Anderson. Women’s Studies International Forum 5, no. 3/4 (1982).

Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Literature by Annis Pratt. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 1, no. 1 (Spring 1982)

Feminology. Signs 3, no. 4 (Summer 1978).


Gnosticism in Modern Literature: A Study of Selected Works of Camus, Sartre, Hesse and Kafka. Ph.D. Dissertation. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1971.

Selected Reviews of Donovan’s Books

The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America. (2020). Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. “It is an amazing story, one made for the movies and emblematic of the idealism and the excesses of a turbulent era.  In The Lexington Six . . . Donovan tells an . . . incredible story. The power of Donovan’s book is three-fold.  Her ability to capture the quotidian nuance of these unfolding events gives her book a novelistic feel. . . . More important is her ability to place all of this in the wider social and political contexts.  Donovan expertly maps out other political struggles. . . . These themes are brought together by Donovan’s incisive portraits.”  Michael Bronsky, author of A Queer History of the United StatesRegister of the Kentucky Historical Society (Spr. 2021). “A meaningful contribution. . . . Donovan compiles and interprets an impressive amount of archival material. . . . [She] herself knew some of the Lexington Six from her time as founding chair of the Women’s Studies Committee at the University of Kentucky, bringing a rich perspective to her analysis.” Women’s Review of Books (March/April 2021).

The Aesthetics of Care:  On the Literary Treatment of Animals (2016):  “This volume makes a substantial contribution to several disciplines—literary studies, feminist studies, environmental studies, and philosophy as well as animal studies. Donovan . . . has written or edited some dozen previous works, including the acclaimed Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions . . . . Donovan engages with a range of complex philosophical issues and writes about them with spirit, precision, and astonishing clarity, making her work accessible to a wide interdisciplinary audience. . . .  This extraordinary book, written by a mature master teacher, is a remarkable achievement. .. . . Essential.” (Choice, Jan. 2017)

European Local-Color Literature (2010).  Comparative Critical Studies (2014):  “I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is full of clever literary insights and draws comparisons between texts written in different languages in ambitious and intelligent ways.”  Comparative Literary Studies (2013): “Admirable . . . incisive comparisons. . . . [a] pioneering study.”

Women and the Rise of the Novel, 1405-1726 (1999). Choice (October 2000): “A work of extraordinary significance. . . . Donovan has defined the field clearly, forthrightly, often brilliantly. All future discussion of the subject begins here.” Germaine Greer: “Donovan’s Women and the Rise of the Novel, 1405-1726 is full of unexpected insights that are no sooner stated than they appear incontrovertible. Her work has advanced our understanding of women’s literary activity in the best way, showing us new roads of inquiry and suggesting a methodology for exploring them.” Lillian S. Robinson: “Donovan knows more about women’s history and feminist theory than any other commentator on early modern female authorship and more about literature than any other student of history. By bringing the two together, Women and the Rise of the Novel becomes a new monument in the field.” Sandra Gilbert: “Donovan’s absorbing, learned and lucidly argued account of the relationship between women and the rise of the novel constitutes a sophisticated contribution to genre theory, to women’s studies, and more generally to our understanding of the literary history of early modern Europe.” Modern Philology (October 2002) Ros Ballaster: “significant, ambitious, timely. . . .At its best Donovan’s work precisely and elegantly . . . traces its origins through a sophisticated merging of theories of production and reproduction.” Positive reviews also appeared in Renaissance Quarterly (Winter 1999), Speculum (October 2000), Huntington Library Quarterly(2001), Studies in the Novel (Winter 2004), and others.

P.O.W. in the Pacific: Memoirs of an American Doctor in World War II (1998): William M. Tuttle Jr. : “the riveting memoir of [an] Army doctor . . . who survived three-and-one-half years as a prisoner in World War II. This is an important book, for nothing so demythologizes the ‘good war’ as Donovan’s harrowing story of torture, disease, and death. In explicating the war’s harsh realities, this book ranks with the most classic accounts by Paul Fussell and E. B. Sledge.” Albert J. Dorley, Jr.: “An excellent book, easily read . . . an important contribution.” Robert F. Maddox: “Seen through the eyes of one who had to heal with insufficient food and medical supplies, this book is a must read.”

Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations (1995). Jane Tompkins: “An outstanding collection. . . . I have learned a tremendous amount. This superbly edited volume makes an important contribution.” Choice (May 1996): “Every college library should welcome this fine addition to the literature” (Claudia Card). NWSA Journal (Fall 1996): “a welcome addition . . . a strong, wide-ranging anthology.” FAR Newsletter (Winter 1995-96): “a rich and highly recommended collection.”

Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions (1985; 2d. ed. 1992; 3d. ed. 2000; 4th ed., 2012). (1998): “This book has established itself as the classic survey and analysis of the roots and development of feminist theory.” Choice (April 1986): “Donovan’s work is a masterful survey of the philosophical and intellectual roots of contemporary feminism. . . . Particularly noteworthy is Donovan’s thorough grasp of the major philosophical tenets grounding each view, her ability to convey these difficult ideas to the general reader, and her complete familiarity with the major figures. . . . Both bibliography and chapter notes attest to the author’s broad scholarly range. Intelligent, balanced, accurate, and informed, Feminist Theory is a major addition to the canon of feminist literature.” off our backs (Feb. 1986): Here, at last is an accurate intellectual account of the American feminist movement.” Booklist (1 Oct. 1985): “supplies a wealth of information. . . . Most fascinating is Donovan’s final prescriptive chapter . . . an important safeguard against the re-disappearance of our feminist heritage.” Women’s Review of Books (Oct. 1986): “not only an impressive piece of research but an invaluable research guide. . . . Donovan’s construction . . . is insightful, original and compelling.” Catharine Stimpson: “a superbly intelligent, lucid guide to one of the great movements of the modern world.”  Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature (2014): “This readable introduction to feminist theory manages to cover a remarkable amount of material . . . with insight, verve, and intelligence. This fine resource belongs in the collection of the next generation of feminists as an invaluable primer.” Named an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Evil, Affliction, and Redemptive Love (1991). Choice (June 1991): “Stowe’s text is plausibly linked to such divergent theorists as Jonathan Edwards, Karl Marx, Martin Buber, Gandhi and Mikhail Bakhtin. There is a good section on the novel’s critical reception–including the ongoing debate over the book’s racism. . . . Both teacher and students will be pleased.”

After the Fall: The Demeter-Persephone Myth in Cather, Wharton, and Glasgow (1989). Choice (Dec. 1989): “This work of literary criticism by a leading feminist scholar effectively supports [its] thesis. . . An excellent introductory chapter relates the Demeter-Persephone myth to 19th-century assumptions about gender roles . . . placing the fiction within its historical context formed by the works of Darwin, Freud, and Krafft-Ebing. . . . Clear, comprehensive, and informative” (Elsa Nettels).Edith Wharton Newsletter: “After the Fall is provocative, original, intruiging, congently argued, and often persuasive. . . . She convinces me that the Persephone myth is as crucial to American women writers as the idea of the American Adam is to their male counterparts . . . an important book and a groundbreaking study of the problems of the female artist in a patriarchal culture” (Alfred Bendixen). American Studies (Spring 1990): “Here [Donovan] provides a theoretically sophisticated continuation of her work on women writers. . . . Students of the three writers analyzed will want to ponder her provocative readings” (Nina Baym). Journal of Modern Literature (1990): “Her detailed explorations provide fruitful reading for anyone concerned about the woman artist.”

New England Local Color Literature: A Women’s Tradition (1983; pb ed. 1989). Women’s Review of Books (Nov. 1983): “a valuable, often daring, reconceptualization of an important era in American literature.” Choice (Nov. 1983): “strongly recommended,” a “pioneering study.”Women’s Studies Review (Jan.-Feb. 1984): “a milestone in the exploration of the literary history of American women . . . dense, informative, and valuable.” Positive reviews also appeared in American Literature (Mar. 1984), Studies in Short Fiction (Winter 1984), New England Quarterly (June 1984), and American Literary Realism (Autumn 1984). Nina Baym (Legacy, Fall 1985) called it one of the “most important” recent books in women’s literary studies. In the lead article in the New York Times Book Review (15 Dec. 1984) Elaine Showalter characterized Donovan as one of the leading scholars of women’s literature in the country. In The Environmental Imagination (1995) Lawrence Buell commented: “Donovan stressed the local colorists’ feminist achievement of turning a marginalized social position to account. Donovan’s is clearly the view that prevails today.”

Feminist Literary Criticism: Explorations in Theory (rev. ed., 1989). Jane Gallop’s Around 1981 devotes a chapter to the book, concluding: “Let me applaud Josephine Donovan and the University Press of Kentucky.”

Photo by Anne White

Updated 7/2023