To Conform or Not To?
Critical Feminist Studies
(Okay, so that's not actually the title for the class,
but it totally should be-- smigliori)
and setting aside time NOT to improve the world (on the orthodox sabbath)
--will work through your paper drafts over next weekend (only 9 received?!)
3 selections from the "tradition" of Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, and Sandra Cisneros
"Hillary cloaks her nepotism in feminism....Obama has been closing the gap with women
and her ginning up of gender has lost her male votes."
Ann duCille, "Nobody's Darling': Periracism and the Truly Diss-advantaged,"
4:30 Fri, Nov. 30, Room 102, Stokes, Haverford College (guest of student
Anne asks at the end of this lecture what Salt has to do with feminism. It seems to me to be exploring the shifting sense of the feminine that we are all encountering....We are no longer in control, borders melt -- and so the book asks, who are we really? Men are no longer "men," women no longer "women." Hurrah for al that!
I don't feel comfortable calling this book a feminist novel....several feminisms...were not concerned with some of the themes of the book..the painful consequences of socioeconomic, ethnic, national and racial inequalities, imperialism and the protection of queer identities have not historically been at the forefront of feminist agendas....labeling the novel feminist...may box it into a system of theoretical tropes to which it does not subscribe. But certainly, its content and perspective resonates strongly with many third world, queer and third wave feminisms....
I hesitate to give it a label any less specific and complex than that which it is meant to represent....I don't think I can reflect on life as Gertrude Stein would have me to. I still find beauty in the reflected, not instaneous, complexities behind something as simple seeming as salt.
smigliori, Book of Salt, Round Two:
Four different ways (at least) that it could be construed as a feminist text
- way to get out of the gaze by focusing on the other senses
- lack of focus on the categories of gender/ sexuality...an example of what feminism should be striving for ...- a "normalizing of queerness"
- involving Gertrude Stein, whose noteriety for ignoring grammatical markers complicates the implications of race and gender markers
-Importance of "geographic circulation"
- novel is driven by Bihn's (Bao's?) desires for other men
- good sex has no narrativ - because if it's good fully in the moment?
- heteronormativity of gstein's and atoklas' lives - cultural/ socioeconomic implications
Which brings us to....
but it totally should be...)
What are your initial reactions to these two poets,
and to the differences between them?
I dislike Stein's
poetry. I am unable to process and understand it on even a basic level.
On the other hand, I find Hacker's moving, erotic, filled with imagery and
symbolism that speaks to me....
Stein’s removal of grammatical markers simply makes hir poetry difficult to comprehend....Hacker takes a basic form and makes it hir own. Ze uses a form which is “traditional” to describe an act which has been consistently erased from history....an appropriation of a form considered to be gendered for hir own purposes....
Besides, Hacker’s poem is hot.
(And Stein's is not?)
First, I want to make you come in my hand
while I watch you and kiss you, and if you cry,
I’ll drink your tears while, with my whole hand, I
hold your drenched loveliness
after a breath, I want to make you full
again, and wet. I want to make you come
in my mouth like a storm. No tears now. The sum
of your parts is my whole most
chart of the constellations—your left breast
in my mouth again. You know you’ll have to be
your age. As I lie beside you, cover me
like a gold cloud, hands
everywhere, at last
inside me where I trust you, then your tongue
Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons
--what makes it a lesbian love poem?
and report back-->
what is going on here??
"Steinian texts produce in all readers bewilderment...."
Penelope Engelbrecht, "'Lifting Belly is a Language': The Postmodern Lesbian Subject," Feminist Studies, 16, 1 (Spring 1990): 85-114.
Susan Holbrook, "Lifting Bellies, Filling Petunias, and Making Meanings through the Trans-Poetic." American Literature, 71, 4 (December 1999): 751-771.
--oddly contradictory critical responses: erotic, "explicit"...also veiled or coded
--decoding seems to miss the mark: the one-to-one equivalence that encryption presumes would deny the polysemnic, indeterminate trajectories of Stein's vocabulary
--the word can be erotic on two opposing conditions, both excessive: if it is extravagantly repeated, or on the contrary, if it is unexpected, succulent in its newness
--"insistence" draws our attention to the material of language, which is generally rendered a silent ferry to the signified....iteration invites us to engage sound and shape in a more intimate way--to enjoy close reading.
--[from "A Transatlantic Interview 1946:] "You had to recognize words had lost their value in the Nineteenth Century...they had lost much of their variety, and I felt that I could not go on, that I had to recapture the value of the individual word, find out what it meant and act within it."
--Stein's poetic interrogates the very surveillance of visibility....Error offers the promise of freedom in a language that would correct deviance, a language that...offered very little in the way of a lexicon for lesbian partnership
--the meanings produced are variable, multiple, and provisional....What drives this persistent variability is a radically paradoxical representational stance....Stein...repeatedly overturns moments of clear referentiality
--only by a sort of indirect treatment...we can hope to grasp the object...because as soon as we name it...our sense of a vital particularity is eclipsed in the generic blankness of the noun...
--nouns are redeemable...in the context of poetry..in the genre that "is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns....that is poetry really loving the name of anything and that is not prose."
--Stein's ambivalence about naming resonants with more contemporary concerns about the limitiations of identity politics...the simultaneous exigency and liability of naming abjected sexuality. If a taxonomy is felt to be crucial for gays and lesbians as a means to facilitate community building and identification, it can certainly also serve the interests of state control, easing the regulatory mechanisms of, for example, homophobic legislaiion and medical pathologization.
--"Can sexuality even remain sexuality once it submits to a criterion of transparency and disclosure, or does it perhaps cease to be sexuality precisely when the semblance of full explicitness is achieved?....I would like to have it permanently unclear what precisely that sign [the word lesbian] signifies....[to establish] the instability of the very category that it constitutes." (Judith Butler, "Imitation and Gender Insubordination," in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, 1993)
An Interview with Marilyn Hacker, Frontiers 5, 3 (Autumn 1980), 22-27:
Any piece of writing thatat doesn't suggest...change...is by definition propaganda for the status quo...Sloppy language is sloppy thinking. It's letting words fall together because one has heard them together too many times before....
the novel demands some kind of resolution. A poem, on the other hand, tends to take place in a given moment. It doesn't demand a novelistic denoument...It's the observation of a given moment in time....certain experiences...hone...attention to that intensity of observation that permits poetry....Poetry can...widen..the focus of that attention...
There is something in the construction of a work of art that permits resolution without there having to be a happy ending...
for most of us the question "do I like this?" will always be the formative quesiton. Vital then, that we widen the "I" that we are as much as we can....
A poem, a piece of fiction of any value is not instantly accessible. The reader, like the writer, has to work, and as long as work remains a four letter word, the average reader will not understand why they should struggle through their leisure time....What we cannot do is judge a book by how little bother it gives us....
(Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery,1996)