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A Dialogue of Voices

A Dialogue of Voices: Feminist Literary Theory and Bakhtin

Karen Hohne
Helen Wussow
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    A Dialogue of Voices
    Book Description:

    Focusing on feminist theorists such as Hélène Cixous, Teresa de Lauretis, Julia Kristeva, and Monique Wittig in conjunction with Bakhtin’s concepts of dialogism, heteroglossia, and chronotope, the authors offer close readings of texts from a wide range of multicultural genres, including nature writing, sermon composition, nineteenth-century British women’s fiction, the contemporary romance novel, Irish and French lyric poetry, and Latin American film.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8528-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xxiv)
    Karen Hohne and Helen Wussow

    In this hope we are as optimistic as Bakhtin. A period of interchange, of dialogue between many voices and many forms of criticism, is approaching or, some would argue, has already arrived. This development may be the predecessor to the period Bakhtin describes above, a state of “decentering” in which a number of voices, “social, national, semantic,” andgendered(we would emphasize), will speak simultaneously. One of the ways this state of affairs is moving toward a reality is through the growing dialogue between Bakhtin’s writings and the various points of view that fall under the rubric of “feminist.”


  4. “The Locus for the Other”: Cixous, Bakhtin, and Women’s Writing
    (pp. 1-19)
    Lisa Gasbarrone

    As it happens, I was a college student in Paris in 1975, the year in which Mikhail Bakhtin died and Hèléne Cixous first published “The Laugh of the Medusa.” I had barely heard of either of them at the time. It wasn’t until a few years later that I encountered first their names and then some of their writings in the course of my graduate studies at Princeton. I dutifully read the assignments in each, in the context of different seminars: Bakhtin’s book on Rabelais for a class in Renaissance literature; andLa Venue àI'écriture,as I recall, because it...

  5. The Historical Poetics of Excrement: Yeats’s Crazy Jane and the Irish Bishops
    (pp. 20-41)
    Elizabeth Butler Cullingford

    In 1930 Yeats suggested a paradoxical similarity between the Bolshevik cultivation of mass emotion and his own imaginative return to the oral popular culture of the Irish peasantry:

    “Is not the Bolshevist’s passion for the machine, his creation in the theatre and the schools of mass emotion, a parody of what we feel? We are casting off crown and mitre that we may lay our heads on Mother Earth.”¹

    Yeats’s metaphor of “discrowning” also permeatesRabelais and His World,on which Bakhtin worked from 1934 to 1940 during the expropriation of the Russian peasant farmers and the Stalinist terror.² Although...

  6. ideological becoming: mikhail bakhtin, feminine écriture and julia kristeva
    (pp. 42-58)
    Virginia l. purvis-smith

    my textual inscription of this experience adapts several of monique wittig’s devices her novelacross the acheron,a novel that repatterns dante’sdivine device her representation of dialogue by the use of parentheses rather than quotation marks, the i read her parentheses reflects more accurately my sense of appropriating the words of others than the way i interpret quotation marks, which set apart the speech and the quoted of others more sharply, once i hear another’s words, they become part of my thoughts speech and are no longer the possession of others, a phenomenon approximated more suitably by...

  7. Voicing Another Nature
    (pp. 59-82)
    Patrick D. Murphy

    Nature writing has been for some two centuries one of those “marginalized” genres of modern writing.¹ Much of what has been labeled as such consists of prose essays or meditational volumes, which are neither novel nor poem, neither fiction nor science. It has been marginalized at least in part because nature writing fails to fit neatly any of the ongoing genre categories that organize criticism. It has also been marginalized because nature has been primarily an object of attention or a site for human endeavors since the Enlightenment rather than an entity in its own right, a speaking subject, a...

  8. Monstrous Dialogues: Erotic Discourse and the Dialogic Constitution of the Subject in Frankenstein
    (pp. 83-96)
    Siobhan Craig

    Mary Shelley’sFrankensteinraises many questions about the nature of discourse and the nature of the human subject. Speech is a central concern of the novel, its frame and the filter through which all of the action passes. The verbal “confession” creates a link, an eroticized bond; through this dialogic interaction the monster attempts to constitute himself as a human subject. In this paper I explore the applicability of aspects of Michel Foucault’sHistory of Sexualityto the process of selfconstitution as Mary Shelley presents it. The discourse of science, thears scientificathat Foucault discusses, is fundamental to consciousness...

  9. Desire and Temptation: Dialogism and the Carnivalesque in Category Romances
    (pp. 97-113)
    Eleanor Ty

    Critics who have examined women’s category romances have pointed out their generally negative and harmful effects. Readers of these romances are thought to be vapid housewives who passively consume these texts and who unquestionably imbibe the ideological construction of the “ideal” woman that these romances offer. In the last few years, a number of scholars have speculated on the reasons why romances have continued to be so popular despite our living in the post-1960s feminist liberation era. That romances provide emotional involvement without risk;¹ that they facilitate women’s “disappearing act,” or the “desire to obliterate the consciousness of the self...

  10. Is Bakhtin a Feminist or Just Another Dead While Male? A Celebration of Feminist Possibilities in Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman
    (pp. 114-127)
    Denise Heikinen

    Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism has been embraced by several feminist critics for its ability to provide a platform for marginalized feminine voices to be heard above the din of the monologic, authoritative, and hegemonic voice. Dale Bauer, for instance, applies dialogism to expose the dominant community’s attempt to subvert and silence females. In the four novels she analyzes inFeminist Dialogics: A Theory of Failed Community,Bauer maintains that this attempt at silencing produces a counterpoint effect of trivializing the dominant patriarchal attitudes. The authoritative voice’s efforts to suppress merely call attention to other voices, thus opening a dialogue...

  11. The Ideological Intervention of Ambiguities in the Marriage Plot: Who Fails Marianne in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility?
    (pp. 128-151)
    Julie A. Shaffer

    Since the novel’s original publication in 1811, those writing aboutSense and Sensibilityhave agreed that the work is thorough in its attacks on the target of its criticism, and, although opinions have differed on what the target of the novel’s indictment might be, critics for the past forty years or so by and large agree in one respect: the novel’s indictments of its target are undermined by the novel’s retaining the appeal of one of its heroines, Marianne, and of the approach to life she embraces. Such readings are limited, I would argue, not so much because of what...

  12. The Chronotope of the Asylum: Jane Eyre, Feminism, and Bakhtinian Theory
    (pp. 152-170)
    Suzanne Rosenthal Shumway

    Today the task of the feminist literary critic is no longer simply a matter pointing out the ways in which women have been (mis)represented various works of literature. Instead, current feminist literary theory demands that we reexamine the very basis of narrative itself, paying close attention to the inconsistencies that are often obscured by a selfcensoring phallocentric text. For example, inAlice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema,Teresa de Lauretis exhorts the feminist critic to create ways of seeing that attempt to “oppose the simply totalizing closure of final statements . . . ; to seek out contradictions, heterogeneity, ruptures in...

  13. On veult responce avoir: Pernette du Guillet’s Dialogic Poetics
    (pp. 171-198)
    Karen Simroth James

    Although this passage by Bakhtin refers to the phenomenon of “hidden dialogicity” in Dostoevsky’s novels, it also serves as a strikingly accurate description of the dialogic essence of Pernette du Guillet’sRymes.The seventy-eight poems of the collection, published in 1545 just months after the young poet’s death, embody a multifaceted principle of dialogism through which Du Guillet questions the relationship between truth and language and explores the acquisition of subjectivity through speech, through poetic creation, through the exchange of knowledge and of language. Not only do her poems explore the emerging voice(s) of her poetic subjectivity, but they also...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 199-200)
  15. Index
    (pp. 201-207)