The Dialogic Self: Reconstructing Subjectivity in Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood

The Dialogic Self: Reconstructing Subjectivity in Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood

The Dialogic Self: Reconstructing Subjectivity in Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood

The Dialogic Self: Reconstructing Subjectivity in Woolf, Lessing, and Atwood

Synopsis

The Dialogic Self addresses the dilemma of the female subject whereby women claim empowerment and the right to authorize themselves, yet so resist the aid of patriarchal authority that in undermining all authority they may deny their own. The key to being decisive and creative is to weigh multileveled inner and outer voices pragmatically in response to changing contexts. Analyzing this cross-fertilizing process in the lives and work of Woolf. Lessing, and Atwood yields insights into the benefits and risks of such a self-concept and offers alternatives to feminists, both men and women.

Excerpt

As the twentieth century draws to a close, the “New World Order” seems to be more of a disorder, with power centers shifting and the marginalized rising along new fronts, as if to fulfill Christ's prophecy that the meek shall inherit the earth. It was not until the advent of the modern era that the empowerment of the meek was made possible by the questioning of centralized authority. Once revolution took the high ground of the historical process in the West (e.g., the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution against the hegemony of the Catholic Church, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class against the aristocracy) the romanticizing of the individual became a powerful discourse, especially in the United States, where ideologies of freedom, equality, and democracy were poured on the newly anointed head of the Common Man, no longer a member of the faceless meek but now invested with the human dignity of an individual face and voice. No longer to be patronized as a child, he would assume the responsibility of determining his destiny democratically by negotiating with equals. Or so the myth went.

But if the playing field seemed leveled, the old power games continued, newly sanctified by the ruling discourse of rugged individualism. Those who have used their freedom of opportunity to get ahead economically have played a double game of consolidating their interests through the government while decrying that government whenever it seemed in danger of actually representing the interests of the meek, who, like the poor, somehow remain ever with us. For example, the old saying that money talks has been legitimized by U.S. courts in granting the right of freedom of speech . . .

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