Engendering the Subject: Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women's Fiction

By Sally Robinson | Go to book overview

3 "We're all consequences of something': Cultural Mythologies of Gender and Race In the Novels of Gayl Jones

Critical reception of Gayl Jones two novels, Corregidora ( 1975) and Eva's Man ( 1976), has been ambivalent, at best. Feminist critics, in particular, have tended to stay away from these two troubling texts. 1 Written in the 1970s' climate of "identity politics," these texts seem to stubbornly defy that context because they work to dismantle the humanist paradigm of singular and definitive identity. 2 Criticism of these novels has tended toward evaluation, and even condemnation, on the one hand, and attempts to force the texts into a humanist tradition, on the other hand. 3 This response is not all that surprising, since the novels actively work to generate radical contradiction; what is surprising is that Jones's critics do not read the production of ambivalence as a textual strategy. 4 Far from stranding the black woman in the politically paralyzed position of victim doubly oppressed, Jones's novels work to dismantle the social structures and discourses that necessitate that positioning of the black female subject. The protagonists of these novels have no access to anything as stable and fixed as "identity," a position that they can unproblematically occupy; rather, they attempt to speak their subjectivity both within and against the discourses which place them in positions marginal to subjectivity. Jones's protagonists, Ursa Corregidora and Eva Medina Canada, do not step "outside" sexist and racist representational structures, in order to forge an "identity"

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Engendering the Subject: Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women's Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction Engendering the Subject 1
  • 1: Repetition and Resistance in Doris Lessing's Children of Violence 29
  • 3: "We'Re All Consequences of Something' 135
  • Epilogue on Representation and Self-Representation 189
  • Notes 195
  • Epilogue 226
  • Bibliography of Works Cited 227
  • Index 241
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