Contents of spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/Syllabi/Ecriture_feminine

Engl 695 Feminist Rhetorical Theory: Ecriture Feminine Professor: Diane Davis Email: Rationale for and Aims of the Course: Historically, thanks not only to Quintilian, rhetoric has been defined as "the good man speaking well" and as "public/civil discourse." Feminist in(ter)ventions into rhetorical theory, however, have questioned its exclusion of women and have sought to construct/compose an/other description of "rhetoric" by addressing what has been called "the woman question." Feminist critiques of "man" as a gendered rather than a generic subject and of what counts as "good" speech have effected a crisis, not only in "The Rhetorical Tradition" (don't miss the irony in that) but also in politics, pedagogy, and the evolution of feminist theory itself. A focus on the "woman question," it seems, has prompted a series of other questions, not the least of which concern the issue of representation itself. Representations of women (not only in "the history of rhetoric" but also in the media, textbooks, and everyday conversations), for instance, tend to be either non existent and/or overwhelmingly reductive. This situation has sparked a heated and polyvocal debate about the possibilities of women's representation and of representation in general. What is at issue here is not merely abstract theories about sexual difference but rather how sexual difference will be represented in language, which has had and will have an undeniable connection to "women's place" in society. Overall, pragmatic American feminists tend to approach the issue with an eye on a traditional notion of liberation: the goal is to create a female subject position, to get women speaking so that the female experience might be wholly represented. Cate Poynton's Language and Gender: Making the Difference, for instance, spotlights the ideological reasons for language practices that keep women alienated from power. Because only what we can name can be discussed and because what we say becomes what we see, obtaining the power to name one's own reality is critical. Elaine Showalter echoes Poynton's appeal to a universal female oppression, suggesting that (a phallocratic) language structure is not the problem; the problem is getting the "full resources of language" to women so that they might begin to alter language usage as they speak themselves into it ("Wilderness"). Many French feminists, on the other hand, approach this problem very differently. First, they do not view language as representational--it cannot represent "women's" experience; and second, they suggest that the very binary structure that American feminists uphold in their struggle is a phallogocentric one that will continually misfire for "women." The same linguistic structure that demands that one be either male or female, active or passive, subject or object, for instance, sets the stage for oppression and exclusion. These French feminisms prefer to focus on finding a way to speak differently rather than on working women into the grammatical structures as they stand. They are interested in the radical, uncontrollable aspect of language that continually breaks free and breaks up phallogocentric (binary) logic; Kristeva calls it "desire in language," and others have referred to it as the "feminine" in language, but this is a post-gendered feminine that stands in as the excess, the overflow that can't be structured. It is in this space, these French feminists suggest, that "women" might be released from their binary bondage. This course will introduce the problem of linguistic representation as it affects and is affected by feminist thought; explore the (mostly) American feminist efforts to write women into "the history of rhetoric" and into public/civic discourse; and examine the rhetoric of French feminism, specifically ecriture feminine's determination to engage a writing that would be Other/Wise, to promote writing the body as a political act. We will explore the ways in which ecriture feminine challenges both traditional and feminist assumptions about language and representation by pointing up the seductive force of a non-linear writing, a writing that doesn't re/present so much as it sets one in motion. REQUIRED TEXTS Course Pack and/or *Reserve Articles Aristotle. Politics. Book I, pt. 5. Ballif, Michelle. "Re/Dressing Histories." Rhetoric Society Quarterly. Winter 1992 Vol. 22 (91-98). Biesecker, Barbara. "Coming to Terms with Recent Attempts to Write Women into the History of Rhetoric." Philosophy and Rhetoric. Vol. 25, No. 2, 1992. (140-161). Cixous, Helene. "Castration or Decapitation?" Trans. Annette Kuhn. Signs 7:11 (1981): 41-55. Davis, Diane. "Breaking Up [at] Phallocracy: Post-Feminisms Chortling Hammer." Rhetoric Review (Fall 1995) 14.1. 126-140. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. "Introduction: Rhizome." In A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1987. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough." The Sciences (March-April 1993). 20-25. Foucault, Michel. "Nietzsche Freud Marx." Transforming the Hermeneutic Context: From Nietzsche to Nancy. Ed. Gayle L. Ormiston and Alan D. Schrift. Albany: SUNY P, 1990. 59-67. Gorgias. Fragments: An Encomium of Helen and On Nature. Both from Rosamond Kent Sprague. The Older Sophists. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 1972. Haraway, Donna. "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s." Feminism/Postmodernism. Ed. Linda Nicholson. New York: Routledge, 1990. (190-233). Irigaray, Luce. "On the Index of Platos Works: Woman." From Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985. (152-159). Juno, Andrea. "Interview with Avital Ronell." Re/Search: Angry Women 13. San Francisco: Research Publications, 1991. 127-153. Lyotard, Jean-Francois. "Economy of This Writing." Libidinal Economy. Trans. Iain Hamilton Grant. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993. 241-262. Marsden, Jill. "Virtual Sexes and Feminist Futures." Radical Philosophy 78 (July-August 1996). Murphy, James, ed. "Introduction." Quintilian: On the Teaching of Speaking and Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1987. Plato. Phaedrus. Vitanza, Victor. "A Feminist Sophistic?" JAC 1995 (15.2) 321-349. Required Books (from the bookstore) Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Cixous, Helene. Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Cixous, Helene. and Catherine Clement. The Newly Born Woman. Jardine, Alice. Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity. Irigaray, Luce. This Sex Which Is Not One. Jarratt, Susan. Rereading the Sophists. READINGS SECTIONS: I. "The" Rhetorical Tradition A. Plato. Phaedrus B. Aristotle. Politics (book I, part IV) C. Murphy. "Intro" D. Irigaray "On the Index of Platos Works: Woman" II. Writing Women into "The" Rhetorical TraditionFeminist Revisionary History A. Ballif. "Re/Dressing Histories" B. Biesecker. "Coming to Terms" C. Juno. "Interview with Avital Ronell" (non-reactionary feminism) D. Jarratt. Intro and Chs 1-3 (humanist, faith in language) E. Vitanza. "A Feminist Sophistic?" (non-humanist, no faith in language) III. Other De/Con/Structions of "The" Rhetorical Tradition A. Gorgias. Helen and On Nature (non-humanistno faith in language) B. Lanham. "The Q-Question" (questions faith in language, reason, truth) C. Fausto-Sterling. "The Five Sexes" (questions biological intractability) D. Foucault. "Nietzsche Freud Marx" (wild language) E. Lyotard. "The Economy of This Writing" (language as red cruelties) F. Derrida. "Structure, Sign, and Play" (post-structuralist interpretation) G. Deleuze and Guattari. "Introduction: Rhizome" (arborescence vs. rhizomatics) IV. Writing [Woman] Other/Wise: A. The Call to Steal and Fly: 1. Jardine. "Preliminaries" and Ch. 1, 3, 5 2. Braidotti. Introduction 3. Irigaray. Ch. 1-2 4. Butler. Preface and Ch. 1 5. Davis. "Breaking Up" 6. Cixous. "Castration or Decapitation?" 7. Cixous and Clement. The Newly Born Woman. B. Beyond the Phathers and the Pheminine: 1. Jardine. Ch. 8-10 2. Irigaray. Ch. 3-5 3. Butler. Ch. 2 4. Braidotti. Ch. 1 and 4-6 C. Some Ecriture Feminine 1. Jardine. Ch. 6 2. Irigaray. Ch. 6, 7, 11 3. Butler Ch. 3 and conclusion 4. Braidotti. Ch. 8 and 15 5. Cixous. Three Steps V. "EleKcriture"Ecriture feminine meets the Electric Text A. Haraway. "Manifesto" B. Haynes. On-line interview on her term: eleKcriture C. Marsden. "Virtual Sexes." ASSIGNMENTS 1. A description of the cultural artifact you have chosen for the semester, posted to the list and @pasted into your "MOO papers" folder. This artifact can be anything you choose; however, you'll be wise to choose something fairly complex. Novels, philosophical works, works of art/architecture, etc., are fine if they're complex enough to handle several interpretations and if you already feel fairly comfortable with them. Here are a few examples that I've seen work well: + Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow + Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being + Bataille's Guilty + Irigaray's Marine Lover + Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil + Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus + Baudrillard's seduction theory + Lacan's/Freud's lack theories + [whoever's] theories of excess + Kristeva's Powers of Horror + Foucault's Order of Things + Derrida's Dissemination + Grimm's Fairy Tales We'll spend some time discussing possibilities in class. 2. Five one-page, single spaced, terribly insightful papers, to be @pasted into your "MOO papers" folder and read aloud in class. The MOO folder will serve as a public archive for your work. The first half of each paper should be a thorough summary of the original text. The second half should be your reading of that work "across" your cultural artifact--or a reading of your artifact "across" the original text. Please don't be fooled; these one-pagers are a whole lot harder to produce than a ten-pager. Until you're used to the process, expect to rewrite, maybe several times. 3. Weekly reading notes on one of the assigned essays/books about which you do not write a one-page paper. All reading notes will be sent out to the listserv for comment by the other members of the class. They will also be @pasted into another virtual folder on the MOO, and at the end, they will be graded as a portfolio (the grade will count twice). These notes should concisely and yet thoroughly cover the work you're discussing. They are due for posting before the next class meeting. They are due for MOO archiving a week later. 4. Participation. I suppose it needs to be said. Your grade will suffer if you don't show up for class. Not because I have a thing for attendance but because the class will be working together most of the time. If you miss class, we miss what you should have been there to offer us. THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM French feminisms have been known to level the same accusation at technology that they level at philosophy: it's rotten to the core because its very language is phallogocentric. Inasmuch as technology has been aligned with a relentless rationality, an arrogant drive for "perfection," an enormous faith in (phallocratic) language, and a perpetuation of the mind/body split, it would seem to make a strange bedfellow with most any flavor of feminism. And technologys newest wonder-child, Virtual Reality, is certainly not exempt from this critique. VR is, as Avital Ronell says, "dependent on classical tropes of representation, imagination, the sovereign subject and negated otherness" ("Activist" 298). Theres plenty of "gender trouble" in VR; there are plenty of racial tensions and class struggles. No doubt about it, VR is the offspring of some fairly nasty metaphysical cravings. But, on the other hand, and heres Ronells point, "who isnt?" (299). What may be more important is that this technology is also busily challenging the assumptions upon which those cravings have been based. This is the reason Donna Haraway asks us to look again at modern technologies, to notice that even as they spout the same old dreams, they also, in spite of themselves, spawn a revolution, a revolution that jives in many ways with the vision of futurity that both Irigaray and Cixous promote. Being itself goes rhizomatic in the cyburbs; it fluidifies; it splinters. In VR, the law of non-contradiction is often blatantly ignored. Coded boundaries that support notions of (gendered) power relations, identity politics, and human production, are unceremoniously transgressed in cyberspace, where you can be everywhere at once and take on any number of identities wherever you go. Haraway notes that in cyburbia, "hierarchical dichotomies that have ordered discourse since Aristotle" are "techno-digested" ("Manifesto" 205) by an order of microelectronic simulation that makes interfaces (with the other) everywhere. There is little doubt, as we will see at the end of the semester, that ecriture feminines future will have been a wired one. With that in mind, we will wire ourselves in the following ways: * MOO-discussions. We will meet as often as possible in the multimedia lab across from the English Department and log into a text-based Virtual Reality called Lingua MOO. There, we will discuss each other's papers and other issues, archive our work, and hold interviews/discussions with two of the authors we'll be reading this semester. We will also conduct a few conferences on the MOO outside of class. I will do my best work around your schedules. * E-mail Listserv. We will establish our own class listserv, on which we will post reading notes to the group, conduct general discussions about issues, and continue conversations that begin in class.

Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005