Some Hungarian and American Women Writers
Chapter 4: Decentered Subjectivity in Gertrude Stein’s "Three Lives" and Kathy Acker’s "Don Quixote"
91 Chapter 4: Decentered Subjectivity in Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives and Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote In the last three decades the humanist notion of the unified, self-identical and autonomous subject has been widely challenged. We have learned that the sub- ject is constructed in language, discourse and ideology (Althusser 167–168). It is ideology that creates subjects from single individuals; thus the subject comes to being by identifying itself with the ‘I’ of discourse (Belsey 64–66). Postmod- ern theories emphasizing the textually constructed nature of human identity, de-center the subject in philosophical, cultural-historical, ideological, psycho- analytic and gender contexts. Subjectivity has also become an exciting contradic- tory issue in feminist criticism since speaking for woman or as woman cannot be distinguished from identity issues and identity politics. As mentioned in the previous chapters, subjectivity is one of the main issues on which postmodern theorists and feminist theorists disagree. I continue studying the same theoretical question in the works of female writ- ers. My main concern in this chapter is how the contradictory question of subjec- tivity is raised in female writers’ experimental fiction. I am especially interested in how these literary texts dramatize the co-existence of inconsistent forces: textuality and identity, in other words, decentered and centered subjectivities. I claim that experimental fiction is able to give space to the marginalized and silenced voices meanwhile it steadily challenges the very (humanist) concept of voice. I am analyzing two American experimental writer’s novels: Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives from the modernist...
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