Feminist Poetics: Poiesis, Performance, Histories

Feminist Poetics: Poiesis, Performance, Histories

Feminist Poetics: Poiesis, Performance, Histories

Feminist Poetics: Poiesis, Performance, Histories

Synopsis

Feminist Poetics is concerned with all of these questions. Terry Threadgold looks principally at the influence of post-structuralism and feminism on poetics, the study of ready-made textual forms. She argues that these movements have changed poetics into a study of the 'making' (poeisis) or 'performing' of textual forms. Feminist Poetics will be of interest to final year undergraduates and postgraduates in feminist theory, critical discourse analysis and cultural studies.

Excerpt

It is now both a feminist and a poststructuralist/postmodernist catch-cry, in some places, that one does not analyse texts, one rewrites them, one does not have an objective metalanguage, one does not use a theory, one performs one’s critique. Critique is itself a poiesis, a making. In feminist theories and practices what has been at issue is the rewriting of patriarchal knowledges (Caine et al. 1988). I want to suggest that there are also seductions involved in allowing oneself to be positioned totally by the discourses and genres of rewriting and refusal of metalanguages, the seductions of an anti-science metaphysics (Haraway 1991b). If we have accepted, in the postmodernist context in which we now work in the humanities, that science and modernist theory are stories told from some body’s position, stories that can be rewritten, then I think we must also accept that stories are theories, and that they always involve a metalinguistic critique of the stories they rewrite.

To accept this means to rewrite the notion of metalanguage, and perhaps to reconsider some modernist theory, in ways that may make it useful again for an explicit feminist critique. Any such undertaking also forces a rethinking of the politics and ‘poiesis of rewriting’. That politics and poiesis is, after all, at least in part derived from the work of male theorists. And it owes much more than it ever admits to the histories and disjunctions of its production in relation to an older poetics, rhetoric and hermeneutics. Nor does it ever actually function without a metalanguage as it claims to do. There is much that a feminist poetics—by which I mean here a feminist work on and with texts—can learn from rereading and rewriting the theories and practices of poetics and poiesis against one another. To rethink poetics in these ways suggests a variety of other possible strategies and metaphors for making new feminist theories which will speak and write what the older poetics ‘does not know it says’. It will also transform the aporias of masculinist ‘rewriting’, what Foucault called commentary, into new concepts of meta-

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