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Women and the Wende: Social Effects and Cultural Reflections of the German Unification Process

Proceedings of a Conference held by Women In German Studies 9-11 September 1993 at the University of Nottingham

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Edited by Elizabeth Boa and Janet Wharton

Writing Otherwise

Atlan, Duras, Giraudon, Redonnet, and Wittig

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Jeanette Gaudet

Essentially a comparative and contrastive analysis, Writing Otherwise examines the prose of five French women authors: Liliane Atlan, Marguerite Duras, Liliane Giraudon, Marie Redonnet, and Monique Wittig. Through close readings of texts published after 1985, this book explores the broad concerns and preoccupations infusing the ontological enterprise that is écriture. While maintaining a sensitivity to the diversity of styles and themes, as well as the unique qualities of the poetic voice evident in the five texts under consideration, this study seeks to highlight, in very general terms, what is common to them. The intertextual ground that informs the works, the construction of subjectivity, and the ambivalence and tension inherent to the practice writing constitute significant and important areas of convergence. These features form the ground of each chapter, while specific areas of divergence complete the discussion of individual aesthetics. Inspired by feminist literary theory, Writing Otherwise is also concerned with how these five women writers negotiate their relationship to writing.

Women without a Past?

German Autobiographical Writings and Fascism

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Joanne Sayner

Who remembers, and how? Debates about the role of memory as history – and of literature as memory – have increasingly come to fascinate those interested in how we look at our pasts as a means for understanding the present. Women without a Past? brings together for the first time autobiographies written by seven women who experienced Nazism from different perspectives: Elfriede Brüning, Hilde Huppert, Greta Kuckhoff, Elisabeth Langgässer, Melita Maschmann, Inge Scholl, and Grete Weil. Their autobiographies provoke diverse and challenging answers to questions about who remembers what, when, where, how and on behalf of whom.
This book foregrounds the positive political potential of re-reading well-known texts and seeking out reasons why others have been marginalized. It examines autobiography as a form of writing at the very centre of contemporary debates on the ‘self’, ‘truth’ and ‘history’. Women without a Past? offers new insights into the politics of memory and autobiography, and will be of particular interest to researchers and students engaging with women’s writing and memories of Nazism.

Transgressive Transcripts

Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Chinese Canadian Women’s Writing

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Bennett Yu-Hsiang Fu

Transgressive Transcripts examines the construction of women’s subjectivity and the textual production of Canadian female voices orchestrated in history, culture, ethnicity, and sexuality. The book, stressing the dissemination and re-inscription of femaleness and femininity in Chinese Canadian history, employs critical models that defy the sexual/textual imaginary of the Canadian literary scene. Four fields of study are conjoined: feminist theories of the body, gender and sexuality studies, women’s writing, and Asian North Amer¬ican studies. Analysing four writers, SKY Lee, Larissa Lai, Lydia Kwa, and Evelyn Lau, the book anchors its thematic and theoretical concern with female sexuality in the context of Chinese Canadian writing. Feminist narratives and gender politics in contemporary Asian North American literature are highlighted via the trope of ‘transgression’.

Fabulous Identities

Women’s Fairy Tales in Seventeenth-Century France

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Patricia Hannon

Fabulous Identities revises traditional interpretations of the fairy-tale vogue which was dominated by salon women in the last decade of the French seventeenth century. This study of women's tale narratives is set into an investigation of how aristocratic identity was transformed by political and social realignments forced by royal absolutism or ambitious materialism. Women's distinctive contributions to the genre are defined by drawing upon various texts that articulated the century's moral, cultural, and aesthetic values, as well as upon contemporary critical perspectives including seventeenth-century historical and cultural studies.
Caught up in the philosophical, political and social controversy over woman's nature, seventeenth-century women writers benefited from salon culture and their access to writing through the literary genres of fairy tales and novels, to explore new identities and expand representations of subjectivity. Women's tales can be seen as a theater for staging an authorial persona at odds with their portrait as presented in male-authored didactic treatises and in the fairy tales of Charles Perrault. At a time when the pressures of social conformity weighed heavily upon them, the conteuses highlight through metamorphosis the affective dimension together with its impact on evolving notions of personal autonomy.

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Edited by Ellen Carol Jones

James Joyce is located between, and constructed within, two worlds: the national and international, the political and cultural systems of colonialism and postcolonialism. Joyce's political project is to construct a postcolonial contra-modernity: to write the incommensurable differences of colonial, postcolonial, and gendered subjectivities, and, in doing so, to reorient the axis of power and knowledge. What Joyce dramatizes in his hybrid writing is the political and cultural remainder of imperial history or patriarchal canons: a remainder that resists assimilation into the totalizing narratives of modernity. Through this remainder - of both politics and the psyche - Joyce reveals how a minority culture can construct political and personal agency. Joyce: Feminism / Post / Colonialism, edited by Ellen Carol Jones, bears witness to the construction of that agency, tracing the inscription of the racial and sexual other in colonial, nationalist, and postnational representations, deciphering the history of the possible. Contributors are Gregory Castle, Gerald Doherty, Enda Duffy, James Fairhall, Peter Hitchcock, Ellen Carol Jones, Ranjana Khanna, Patrick McGee, Marilyn Reizbaum, Susan de Sola Rodstein, Carol Shloss, and David Spurr.

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Ulrike Tancke

Early modern women writers are typically studied as voices from the margin, who engage in a counter-discourse to patriarchy and whose identities prefigure postmodern notions of fragmented selfhood. Studying a variety of literary forms – autobiographical writings, diaries, mothers’ advice books, poetry and drama – this innovative book approaches early modern women’s strategies of identity formation from an alternative angle: their self-writings should be understood as attempts to establish a coherent, stable and convincing subjectivity in spite of the constraints they encountered. While the authors acknowledge contradiction and ambiguity, they consistently strive to compromise and achieve balance. Drawing on social and cultural history, feminist theory, psychoanalysis and the study of discourses, the close reading of the women’s texts and other, literary and non-literary sources reveals that the female writers seek to reconcile the affective, corporeal, social, economic and ideological dimensions of their identities and thereby question both the modern idea of the unified self and its postmodern, fragmented variant. The women’s identities as writers, mothers, spouses, household members and economic agents testify to their acceptance of contradictions, their adherence to patriarchal norms and simultaneous self-assertion. Their pragmatic stances suggest that their simultaneous confidence and anxiety should be taken seriously, as tentative, precarious, yet ultimately workable and convincing expressions of identity.

Eating Well, Reading Well

Maryse Condé and the Ethics of Interpretation

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Nicole Simek

While rejecting a conception of literature as moral philosophy, or a device for imparting particular morals to the reader through exemplary characters and plots, Maryse Condé has displayed throughout her writing career a strong valorization of literature as ethical critique. This study examines her singular approach to literary commitment as a critical reworking of aesthetic models and modes of interpretation. Focusing on four dominant problematics in Condé’s work—history and globalization in La Belle Créole and Moi, Tituba sorcière...noire de Salem, intertextuality and reception in La migration des cœurs and Célanire cou-coupé, trauma and subjectivity in En attendant le bonheur and Desirada, community and ethics in Traversée de la mangrove and Histoire de la femme cannibale—this analysis proposes to elucidate how, and to what ends, Condé engages, and alters, approaches to reading, staging the problematic, yet pragmatic, need to read well. This hermeneutic imperative foregrounds the need to engage with texts, to cannibalize texts while recognizing their fundamental opacity and inexhaustibility, their resistance to the reader’s interpretive habits.

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Margrit Verena Zinggeler

This work analyzes texts by contemporary Swiss writer Gertrud Leutenegger in regard to the interrelationship of literary freedom and social constraints by applying different discursive variants of literary discourse analysis. How do the enigmatic texts written in an idiosyncratic and unique style, filled with myths and codes of dream and life sequences relate to the Swiss environment? Are they just free associations and combinations constituting an esoteric utopia? Is Gertrud Leutenegger ortslos as Martin Roda Becher defines postmodern writers?
Critical approaches of several schools of literary criticism; feminism, male gender studies, psychoanalysis, mythology, theory of style, linguistics, and sociolinguistics contrast the functional textual differentiations. A wide interdisciplinary need in literary projects is thus disclosed. Therefore, this volume is of interest for scholars of all branches of social and literary sciences.
Unprecedented are the models of masculinity and the images of men derived from a first person singular narrative by a Swiss woman writer. She works through the ontological process of subjectivity reflected in the image of a patriarch governor and an Italian immigrant.
The chapter on Swissness in the Text is of crucial importance concerning the categorization of German Literature and questions about minor literature.
This socio-critical analysis shows that there is a transcendence between the writing subject-(author) and literature. Yet, the body can be retrieved from literature since das Herz muß im Körper belassen werden, als Sitz der Erkenntnis, as Gertrud Leutenegger says. All her texts are body writings; her words originate in the female body experiencing constraints in Switzerland.