Maternal Pasts, Feminist Futures: Nostalgia, Ethics, and the Question of Difference

By Lynne Huffer | Go to book overview

Mom

When I was in college, my mother came out as a lesbian. This book, at its core, is about my coming to terms with that. Let me explain. I'm quite certain that my mother's presence is somehow inscribed throughout these pages. However, her particular place here as my mother is probably not obvious to anyone but me. Indeed, this book is not "about" my lesbian mother; it's not even about lesbian mothers in general. Nonetheless, at the heart of this project stands the figure of my lesbian mother. So I find myself, from the start, faced with something of a paradox: my mother is both here and not here. And perhaps, despite the conundrum, this is actually a good place to start. After all, what I'm really mapping in this book is presence and absence--visibility and invisibility, voice and silence--in the complex relation between lesbians, mothers, and daughters.

Before I go further, let me assure you: this is not yet another version of that frighteningly ubiquitous story about the literary critic turned autobiographer. This is not a narrative about my inner child, or about my personal psychic drama in the halls of academe. So let me try, for a moment, to define what this book is. Put succinctly, it is a feminist reading of the mother as a figure of nostalgia in the work of four French-speaking writers: Blanchot, Irigaray, Kristeva, and Brossard.

Like any product of human endeavor, this book is a construction in time. Over the course of writing, I made a conscious decision not to completely mask the changes that inevitably occur. The individual stitches are part of the story, and I want the seams to show. Against that

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Maternal Pasts, Feminist Futures: Nostalgia, Ethics, and the Question of Difference
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Mom 1
  • INTRODUCTION Maternal Pasts 6
  • Nostalgia: The Lost Mother 33
  • Chapter 1- Blanchot's Mother 35
  • Chapter 2- Lips in the Mirror: Irigaray's Specular Mother 55
  • Nostalgia and Ethics: Approaching the Other 71
  • Chapter 3- Imperialist Nostalgia: Kristeva's Maternal 'Chora' 73
  • Chapter 4- Luce 'Et Veritas': Toward an Ethics of Performance 96
  • Toward Another Model 115
  • Afterword Feminist Futures 117
  • 5- CHAPTER From Lesbos to Montreal: Brossard's Urban Fictions 134
  • Reference Matter 141
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 195
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