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Greer, Germaine (1939 - )

Dr, Professor

Born
29 January 1939
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Academic, Feminist and Writer

Summary

Germaine Greer established her international reputation as a feminist through the publication of The Female Eunuch in 1970. As an academic her expertise was in English Literature, having completed a MA thesis on Byron at Sydney University and a PhD on Shakespeare at Cambridge University in 1967. While in London, she wrote for the radical paper Oz, espousing controversial views on the nature of feminism in that period. She has continued to contribute to the feminist debate from a libertarian perspective, but it is difficult to categorise her feminist position.

In 2003, Professor Greer received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Melbourne. She received a
Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney inr 2005.

Details

Germain Greer was born in Melbourne, Australia on January 29, 1939. She was educated in Gardenvale at Star of the Sea College, a private convent school. In 1956, she was awarded a scholarship to enroll at the University of Melbourne where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and French literature and language.

After finishing university in Melbourne, Greer relocated to Sydney where she eventually received a Master's degree in Romantic Poetry from the University of Sydney. Arguably, her experiences beyond university were just as important to the development of her thinking. She joined the bohemian Sydney Push movement and drifted into a series of beliefs that were anarchic and communist, identifying with each as a variant Marxist.

Germaine Greer's Master's thesis The Developmenet of Byron's Satiric Mode would earn her a Commonwealth Scholarship, which she used to pay for her doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge. While in England, she joined the all women, Newnham College. She also joined the amateur acting group, the Cambridge Footlights. This group helped connect Germaine Greer to the world of art and media production in London.

Greer began writing under the pseudonym Rose Blight for Private Eye, a satirical magazine. She also wrote under the pseudonym Dr. G. for the magazine Oz.

In 1970, she published The Female Eunuch a call to arms that condemned gender-encoded norms and society's expectations that women should live vicariously through men. It caused a sensation in Britain, the United States and Australia, and thereafter was forever being reprinted and translated. She is a vehement opponent of women who ape men and join their hierarchies to become 'sisters in suits'. 'If women can see no future apart from joining the masculine elite on its own terms, our civilization will become more destructive than ever'.

Greer has written prolifically about the obstacles placed in front of women writers and artists, as they have attempted to pursue their careers. She chronicles the minor role of women poets in Slip-shod Sybils. Recognition, Rejection and The Woman Poet and offers an anthology of female artists in The Obstacle Race. She continues to publish in the popular press about things that matter. In recent years, she has become very outspoken about environmental matters. In her address to open Perth Writer's Festival in 2012, entitled 'Eco-Feminism Then and Now', she issued an evironmental call to arms to women everywhere, to act to 'stem the tide of eco-side'. Women, she said, had historically been at the forefront of the environmental movement but Greer called for the women of today to do more and follow the unlikely example of the growing activism of the Country Women's Association against coal seam gas projects in Queensland and New South Wales.

Greer now divides her time between her property in the Gold Coast hinterland in Southern Queensland and the UK, where she holds an emeritus professorship in literature at the University of Warwick.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Germaine Greer Biography', in European Graduate School Website, 2012, http://www.egs.edu/library/germaine-greer/biography/; Bevis, Stephen, 'Greer Kicks Off Writers Festival', The West Australian, 24 February 2012, http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/13002256/greer-kicks-off-writers-festival/; Caine, Barbara (ed.), Australian Feminism: A Companion, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998, 607 pp; Keavney, Kay, 'The Liberating of Germaine Greer', The Australian Women's Weekly, Feb 2, 1972, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4887572; Quilty, Ben, 'Germaine Greer: A Portrait', Meanjin, 19 Feb, 2013, http://meanjin.com.au/articles/post/germaine-greer-a-portrait/; Professor Germaine Greer, University of Sydney News, University of Sydney, 2005, http://sydney.edu.au/senate/HonGreer.shtml.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • [Biographical cuttings on Germaine Greer, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals], BIOG; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Rosemary Francis and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124