Changing Minds

Women and the Political Essay, 1960-2000

Jurečič’s prose is lucid and direct, and her analyses breathe new life into her subjects’ works. It’s a stimulating take on five estimable essayists.
Publishers Weekly

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In Changing Minds: Women and the Political Essay, 1960–2000, Ann Jurečič documents the work of five paradigm-shifting essayists who transformed American thought about urgent political issues. Rachel Carson linked science and art to explain how pesticides threatened the Earth’s ecosystems. Hannah Arendt redefined “evil” for a secular age after Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem. Susan Sontag’s interest in the intersection of politics and aesthetics led her to examine the ethics of looking at photographs of suffering. Joan Didion became a political essayist when she questioned how rhetoric and sentimental narratives corrupted democratic ideals. Patricia J. Williams continues to write about living under a justice system that has attempted to neutralize race, gender, and the meaning of history. These writers reacted to the stressors of the late twentieth century and in response reshaped the essay for their own purposes in profound ways. With this volume, Jurečič begins to correct the longstanding dearth of scholarly studies on the importance of women and their political essays—works that continue to be relevant more than two decades into the twenty-first century.

about the author

Ann Jurečič

Ann Jurečič is associate professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is the author of Illness as Narrative, coauthor of Habits of the Creative Mind, and associate editor for the journal Literature and Medicine.

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Ann Jurečič