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On Nashawena, with the patronage of the island’s owner, Kyra is designing a new city — a kind of commune that she hopes will challenge the notion of the traditional city and change the way men and women interact. Ten years earlier, in her native Cyprus, she had watched her half brother kill her husband — ostensibly for political reasons, but actually, she knows, because of his deep jealousy of her husband and alienation from their family.

After her husband’s death, Kyra fled the strife in Cyprus, as her parents had fled Hitler years earlier, dedicating herself to a vision of a world without violence, imperialism or estrangement, using architecture as her instrument. She replies by demanding, “What is the opposite of losing?

It’s not surprising then, that Gilligan has been drawn to fiction, where imagination can be untrammeled by the need for actors and stages.

Rather than choose a plot of moral and ethical conflict, demonstrating the different values of young women in difficult situations, she has followed up on The Birth of Pleasure, rewriting romantic tragedy in feminist terms to show how to have love and freedom.

In her most recent psychological text, The Birth of Pleasure (Knopf, 2002), Gilligan argued that tragic love stories are patriarchal, defining love as loss and pain, whereas a female-centered love story would allow both protagonists the happy ending of equality.

In 2002, Gilligan also wrote a dramatic adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, produced at Shakespeare & Co., in Lenox, Mass., a tale that illustrated her idea that the tragic love story is a rigid and inflexible genre that denies men and women pleasure by insisting on obedience to patriarchal codes.

“To change the structure of people’s inner lives,” her husband once told her, you have to “change the outer structures as well.” For a decade, Kyra lives as if her husband “were still here, our heart-minds joined.” But when she meets Andreas, a passionate and idealistic Hungarian director, she finds herself weakening. ” The rest of their courtship is as heavily freighted and as portentous.

Although some scholars criticized (and continue to criticize) its findings, politicians, parents and teachers began to re-evaluate how they treated young boys and girls.

Gilligan was named to the first professorship in gender studies at Harvard. Set in the mid-1980s, around the time she was first challenging the “masculine bias” in psychology and society, this book too is a clarion call.

Jane Fonda credits the book with changing her life. Here the goal is “changing the frame”: overthrowing the old (male) order of domination and aggression and replacing it with a new ethic based on selflessness, openness and reciprocity.

For girls, she maintained, entering adolescence meant sacrificing an authentic self and genuine voice to the urgent need for relationships, thus developing a female ethics of care more complex and conflicted than a male one.

In addition to a small number of interviews with 12-year-old boys and girls, Gilligan drew many of her examples from literature (she had majored in English at Swarthmore College), including the work of Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Margaret Drabble, George Eliot, Robert Frost, Henrik Ibsen, James Joyce, D. Lawrence, Mary Mc Carthy, Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, Stendhal, and Virginia Woolf.

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