Reading Woman: Essays in Feminist Criticism

Reading Woman: Essays in Feminist Criticism

Reading Woman: Essays in Feminist Criticism

Reading Woman: Essays in Feminist Criticism

Excerpt

Reading Woman began as a collection of feminist literary criticism focusing on texts by women writers.As it evolved, it became not just a book of feminist readings, but a book about both "reading" and "woman"—whether as reader, as writer, or as read; and especially as represented in and by Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis.In their different ways, all the essays included address both the question of feminist reading and the related (for me, inseparable) question of reading "woman" as a figure for sexual difference.They are also linked by a preoccupation with the relation between women and theory, especially (but not only) psychoanalytic theory. What is the status and function of "woman" in the Freudian text? And what is the status and function of theory within feminist criticism? Feminist readings of writing by and about women—concerned with the representation of women, and with the relation between reading, writing, and sexual difference—intersect here with readings of feminist theory itself.

To position myself as a feminist critic, both geographically and intellectually, it seems worth saying that in 1980 I moved from England to the United States. One effect of that move, paradoxically, was to take me closer to France. Recent Anglo-American feminist criticism has been invigorated, often transformed, by its encounter with French feminism, particularly psychoanalytic feminism.The essays included in this book are no exception. For me at least, existing literary and feminist concerns have often been radically reformulated in the light of writings by (and about) Hélène Cixous, Sarah Kofman, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray—to name only the best known—as well as by the interpretative writings in England of Lacanian feminists such as Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose . . .

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