Academic journal article K@ta

Following the Traces of Feminine Writing in Adrienne Rich's Poems

Academic journal article K@ta

Following the Traces of Feminine Writing in Adrienne Rich's Poems

Article excerpt


There is a close interrelationship between the world of poetry and the real world outside, especially in the case of women's writings. Poetry for women represents the experience and the oppressions which they have undergone throughout history. Therefore, the prerequisite to understanding women's literature, its specialty and difference, is "to reconstruct its past, to rediscover the scores of women novelists, poets and dramatists whose work has been obscured by time and to establish the continuity of female tradition from decade to decade" (Showalter, 1979, p. 35). Through this method, one can trace the patterns and phases of the evolution of female tradition, which is parallel to the phases of the development of any "subcultural art", through which one can "challenge the periodicity of orthodox literary history, and its enshrined canons of achievement" (Showalter, 1979, p. 35). Such a systematic exploration of women's writing enlightens one's awareness of political, social and cultural experiences of women.

Having gone down to the depths of the wreck of the civilization, brought about by the non-inclusive male myth, and having tried to stand against the orthodox literary traditions which are mostly masculine and to create a new female myth and mode of writing, female writers like Rich turn to a better ways of knowing, that is, a totally female mode of expression. Such manner of female writing exposes women's "courageous self-exploration." Moreover, such female writers try to "unify the fragments of female experience through artistic vision" and they focus on "the definition of autonomy for the woman writer" (Showalter, 1977, pp. 33-5).

From the 1960s onwards, women's writing starts a dynamic phase which combines the strengths of their previous conservative writings with such themes as the conflicts between women writers' love of their craft and its discrepancies with family obligations, the conflict between "self-fulfillment and duty." Moreover, in this period we confront with such concepts as "anger and sexuality," as sources of female power (Showalter, 1977, pp. 34-5). Such burst of radical themes, modes of expression and writing in women's writing, as opposed to the dominant male patterns of expression and masculine aesthetics and modes of writing, could be traced in Adrienne Rich's writing. In a society where language becomes an instrument in the hands of the males, Rich undergoes a risky project through which she evades the "discourse that regulates the phallocentric system" and uses feminine writing or "ecriture feminine" (Cixous 1975, p. 353).


Rhetoricians have challenged the function of language as a neutral mirror of objective reality; rather they assert that it plays a powerful undeniable role in shaping human experiences and perceptions of the world. Having such view of rhetoricians towards language in mind, feminists consider the structure of language as being gender-based functioning both as a means of expression and repression. Lacan, utilizing Derrida's term, illustrates the phallogocentric structure of language to refer to the privileging of masculine in construction of meaning throughout the patriarchal history. Lacan believes that Western thought is based on systematic oppression of women's experience brought about by the phallocentric structure of language which allows no place for feminine writing. Due to the control of men over their territory, according to Cixous (1975), women have been confined to live in a narrow room where they have undergone an unconscious brainwash throughout the whole history. Once they learn their name, they are also taught that "their territory is black" because they are considered to be black. Women are taught that their "continent is dark" and dangerous. That is how women's horror of their "dark" places have been internalized and at some point, as it seemed to be, eternalized. Riveting women between two horrifying myths of the Medusa and the abyss, the patriarchal society has made women to believe that theirs is too dark a continent to be exploreable. …

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