Austin Cotner : “Woman’s New Era” by Francis Grierson

From the Modernist Journals Project, I read “Woman’s New Era” by Francis Grierson. In it, Grierson argues that we are entering into the fifth great movement that will “vivify” the pages of history during which “women will need through a long cycle of spiritual activity.” She goes on to then propose and then explain, with several anecdotes, how the two greatest spiritual movements of our time were led by women.

The two words I found to permeate the article were “cycle” and “psychic.” Grierson employs cycle in a couple different ways, but the main, and most important one I saw was to differentiate or “tag” time periods as being “masculine, feminine or neutral” or any number of other descriptions. This distinction was useful in the formulation of her assertion that this new cycle, or time period we are moving into will be defined by those traits.

The other word, “psychic,” is employed for numerous reasons. However, I believe the main function of its use is to suggest that the causes behind this new cycle is largely inexplicable and in many ways, almost spiritual. One argument Grierson made on this topic was at the end of the reading, in which she puts forward the idea that if this movement is to be successful, it 1) must not be tethered to any previous movements and 2) every woman should be a “psychic entity and a spiritual force.”

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3 thoughts on “Austin Cotner : “Woman’s New Era” by Francis Grierson

  1. I agree with Austin’s summary of “Women’s New Era” by Francis Grierson. Grierson explains how we are in the fifth great movement: the women’s movement. This movement is “the awakening of women after a slumber of three thousand years.” She then explains past movements that were led by women, proving their importance in history.

    The words in this article that stand out to me are spiritual, vivified, and elucidate.

    Spiritual is used multiple times throughout this article, with Grierson saying that “the awakening of women was spiritual.” She goes on to explain this a little more by saying, “there must be an actual awakening to the spiritual side of life and thought before anything great can arise…” In her second to last time using “spiritual,” Grierson explains, “The new movement ought to teach women how to exert their spiritual facilities on a practical, social, and political plane…” Grierson uses the word spiritual so often to emphasis how important it is, and how important it is in the women’s movement that is going on. She is basically saying that without a spiritual side being present, the women’s movement cannot happen.

    Grierson also uses the words vivified and elucidate, which stand out to me because I don’t know what they mean. When I don’t know the meaning of two or three words, I assume that they are very important which is why they are used. Grierson uses the word vivified in the opening sentence. Vivified means to enliven, so Grierson’s opening sentence means that these past four, and current movement have enlivened the world we live in today, making them superbly important. She also uses the word elucidate, which means to make something clear. I think that Grierson chose this word to stand out so that we see the importance of the historical anecdotes about the past movements, so we can compare it with the current movement.

  2. My thoughts on this article, as well as my desire to play devil’s advocate, lead me in a different train of thought. I found myself cringing throughout this article as references to “thought-waves” and “psychic force” continued to worm their way into what is supposed to be a scholarly and professional article. I am in agreement that there was a spiritual and mental uprising among women at the time, but the words that the author uses make it seem more like it was written by a gypsie fortune teller.

    I am also skeptical as to the cyclical nature of the struggle for women’s rights. The events she referenced as proof of this, the most well-known being Joan, only show examples of a single woman entering a position of power or having the capability to change the status quo, but these efforts, while praised in modern history, were scorned during their occurring time period (which should be obvious considering Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for witchcraft, which at the time was synonymous with feminism).

    In summary, I do not agree with the ideas mentioned. There is simply not enough factual evidence stated to make me believe in the cycles of change of the “thought-power” mumbo-jumbo that is shoved into the reader’s face. I agree with the concept overall, that women went through a mental and spiritual shift in beliefs and became more progressive, and that change pushed the feminist movement to the success it has had today, but I would prefer a more fact-based theory to read on the subject.

  3. The words that have been pointed out by Austin and Kate, “spiritual,” “awakening,” and “cycle,” are all used by Grierson to describe past events in the women’s movement. But by using these strong words to describe the past, she is simultaneously attempting to excite women about the present. The word “cycle” lends an air of inevitability to the awakening of women, as we know cycles repeat themselves. Grierson argues that a third movement is on its way, so the idea of the cycle is naturally conducive to her argument. The words “spiritual” and “awakening” signify something important because of their religious connotations, and make her claims seem divine. Her word choices are very powerful, as they need to be to support her left-field claim that, “Every cultured woman should be a psychic entity and a spiritual force.”

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