Special Issue: Feminism in Time
|Marshall Brown||Literature in Time|
|Margaret Ferguson||Feminism in Time: An Introduction|
|Carla Freccero||Queer Nation, Female Nation: Marguerite de Navarre, Incest, and the State in Early Modern France|
|Jeffrey Masten||Material Cavendish: Paper, Performance, "Sociable Virginity" |
The essay argues for a reexamination of the theoretical and methodological models that have characterized the study of Margaret Cavendish's writing, her writing and publication practices, and her model of a feminist or "proto-feminist" writing subject. Taking as its example the use of paste-on "cancel" slips used to mark the participation of Cavendish's husband William in the writing of her second volume of printed plays (1668), the essay argues for a reintegration of the ways in which "material" aspects of the printed text figure alongside more familiar discursive/textual marks as performances of Cavendish's authorship and her collaboration with her husband. As a method for rethinking "identity," hermetic authorship, and a writing subject on an "absolutist" model, the essay suggests tracing authorial "identifications," including the complicated nexus of identifications and associations within emergent seventeenth-century "companionate marriage," one of the rhetorics Cavendish deploys in describing her writing. The essay thus seeks to provide a model for thinking about the relation of bibliographic study, "the history of the book," and feminism in a particular time.
|Laura Mandell||The First Women (Psycho-) Analysts, or the Friends of Feminist History |
Enlightenment feminism such as that produced by Mary Hays and Mary Wollstonecraft still contains some as yet unactivated political potential, offering accurate accounts of women's oppression embedded in rhetorical efforts to overcome that oppression. Insofar as those acts are rhetorical, they were at the moment of their production unfinished but can be completed in our moment. One way to do so is through understanding the utopianism essential to feminism as a psychoanalytic approach to history. Enlightenment philosophy is opposed to our current psychoanalytically-inspired view that all reality, past or present, bears the same relation to language as does trauma - in other words, that history is fundamentally inaccessible. Hays and Wollstonecraft are Enlightenment thinkers to the core: implicitly gainsaying the trauma theory of reality, they attempt to make use of transference as both psychoanalytic cure and method for uncovering reality. For them, only partisan historical accounts written by the friends of feminist history can give us a version of reality that is undistorted by the sexist practices of their culture. The friendship that they offer to us through rhetorical performance recapitulates the psychoanalytic encounter, making their historical reality available to us through analysis of transference. Transference is, of course, nothing apart from the counter-transference: reading for transference allows Hays and Wollstonecraft to analyze us, revealing that one of the major forms taken by sexism at our own moment is the tale of fatal attraction.
|Rachel Blau DuPlessis||Marble Paper: Toward a Feminist "History of Poetry"|
|Angela Leighton||In Time, and Out: Women's Poetry and Literary History |
This essay explores the possibilities of defining a literary history of women's poetry in relation to a particular genre of lyric which seems to be almost exclusive to women poets: the lyric of 'being dead'. Not exactly 'self-elegy', this form of poetry, which runs through nineteenth and twentieth-century writing, from Christina Rossetti to Heather McHugh, suggests, on the one hand, that a distinctive literary history of women's poetry can be mapped, and, on the other, that history, at least the biographical history of the first person pronoun, is precisely the thing that women poets are keen to escape. The essay thus suggests that lyric poetry plays up the tension, latent in all literary writing, between history and the aesthetic. The future of a feminist literary criticism might, paradoxically, be found in just the place where history and the aesthetic meet and find their limits.
|Joan DeJean||The Time of Commitment: Reading "Sapho 1900" Reading Sappho |
Those of us who study the works and the careers of authors from earlier periods to whom the adjective "feminist" can be applied are always practicing a particular form of "feminism in time." We are of necessity evaluating projects from other periods from a contemporary vantage point. As a result, we are constantly obliged to question the extent to which our reconstructions of their alliances and commitments may have been colored by our knowledge of the ways in which feminism has developed in our time. In this essay, I consider a period during the first half of the twentienth century and what seems a most unlikely alliance: between a group of radical lesbians and several of the founders of the field known today as Jewish Studies who were also among the most vocal supporters of Alfred Dreyfus. I speculate on both the political goals of this alliance and on how we might understand how it came to be. The central piece of "evidence" upon which my reconstruction is based is the most overtly sapphic edition of Sappho ever published, which appeared in Paris just as that city was liberated after the German occupation.
|Robyn Wiegman||On Being in Time with Feminism |
This paper approaches current debates in academic feminism by critiquing lines of inquiry that emphasize generational difference and exploring instead non teleological understandings of feminism as a knowledge project, historical entity, and social force. It focuses in particular on the psychic aspects of sustaining an intellectual political life by returning to the vexed relation between experience and theory in feminist thought, and ends with a consideration of the current psychic life of Women's Studies as an interdisciplinary field.
|Jonathan Culler||"Feminism in Time": A Response|
Modern Language Quarterly | Department of English, Box 354330 |
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 98195-4430