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Ellen Moers

While early critics attacked Ellen Moers’s 1976 book Literary Women for its exclusive focus on women writers, her analysis of Mary Shelley and other women writers reshaped our understanding of their work. Moers earned her BA at Vassar in 1948 and her MA at Radcliffe in 1949, then began teaching at schools throughout the New York area such as Hunter, Barnard, Brooklyn College, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York while writing for various newspapers and periodicals. She earned her PhD in 1954 from Columbia University and began publishing her academic studies, The Dandy in 1960 and Two Dreisers in 1969. But it was through her third book, Literary Women, that she made the greatest impact on literary criticism, as the first scholar to connect Mary Shelley’s experiences of miscarriage and child loss to her story of a monstrous creation. Moers argued that women authors had profoundly different life experiences from their male counterparts, and that those experiences created a unique literary culture—an argument that was controversial at the time but which has become the essential and obvious core of feminist literary theory.

Date of Birth
December 9, 1928
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
August 25, 1979

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ellen Moers." (Viewed on October 22, 2018) <>.


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