Showalter questions mainstream literary tradition of it sexist bias and establishes a new female literary tradition discovering and revealing women writers and their works. Her aim is to point to the existence of a powerful tradition of women's writing which was constantly ignored by traditional literary historians.
Showalter traces three stages in the evolution of the female literary tradition - the feminine, the feminist and the female. The first stage (Feminine phase) dates from about 1840 to 1880 was that of imitation. During this period , women wrote in an effort to equal the intellectual and aesthetic achievement of male writers. They also internalized male assumptions about female nature. The distinguishing sign of this period was the use of male pseudonyms by women writers. The writings of Mary Ann Evans under the pseudonym George Eliot is an example for this period
The second (feminist) phase is extended from about 1880 to 1920. It was a period of protest. During this phase, women rejected the accommodating postures of femininity and used literature to dramatize the audience of wronged Womanhood.
The third phase (Female) has evolved since 1920 and still continues. In this stage, women have rejected both imitation and protest and turned to female experience as the source of an autonomous art. During this period women have thought about specific issues of female writing, style,literary forms and techniques.