Feminism beyond Modernism

By Elizabeth A. Flynn | Go to book overview

1
Modern/Antimodern/Postmodern:
Rewritings

A cultural domain has no inner territory. It is located entirely upon boundaries, boundaries intersect it everywhere, passing through each of its constituent features.

—M. M. Bakhtin, “Content, Material, and Form in Verbal Art”

To live in the Borderlands means to put chile in the borscht, eat whole wheat tortillas, speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent; be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

—Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Deconstruction was very harmful in this respect because it was misunderstood. One does not deconstruct before having constructed. Those who are not capable of a certain classicism should return to Cartesian ideas, to maxims like “Ce que l'on conçoit bien s'énonce clairement” (“What is clearly conceived is clearly expressed”)—and afterward produce an effect of flux, of orchestration, and of polyphony. But as enrichment, not as confusion.

—Julia Kristeva, “Cultural Strangeness and the Subject in Crisis”

The following descriptions make clearer some ways in which antimodern and postmodern traditions move beyond modern ones. These descriptions are meant to be suggestive and metonymic rather than definitive and exhaustive. I have chosen strong examples, though other selections could have been made as well, and certainly the examples I provide need fuller development in subsequent studies. In describing modernism, for instance, I have included discussions of both rational and empirical traditions and of important contributors to these traditions, though these discussions are brief. Defining modernism as it is usually understood outside English studies enables scholars within English studies to participate in interdisciplinary exchange.


Modernisms

Here I sketch out some of the parameters of Enlightenment modernism in its late-seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century, nineteenth-century, and twen-

-19-

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