A Dialogue of Voices: Feminist Literary Theory and Bakhtin
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A Dialogue of Voices was first published in 1994. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The work of the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, particularly his notions of dialogics and genre, has had a substantial impact on contemporary critical practices. Until now, however, little attention has been paid to the possibilities and challenges Bakhtin presents to feminist theory, the task taken up in A Dialogue of Voices. The original essays in this book combine feminism and Bakhtin in unique ways and, by interpreting texts through these two lenses, arrive at new theoretical approaches. Together, these essays point to a new direction for feminist theory that originates in Bakhtin-one that would lead to a feminine être rather than a feminine écriture.
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. The result is a unique dialogue in which authors of both sexes, from several countries and different eras, speak against, for, and with one another in ways that reveal their works anew as well as the critical matrices surrounding them.
Karen Hohne is an independent scholar and artist living in Moorhead, Minnesota. Helen Wussow is an assistant professor of English at Memphis State University.
ballad re- Historical Poetics of Excrement 29 frain, a voice without a subjectivity that complicates and challenges the univocality of the poetic text. In "Crazy Jane Reproved" the refrain, "Fo/ de rol, fol de rol," flippantly derides the injunction "never hang your heart upon / A roaring, ranting journeyman" (256-57). In "Crazy Jane on God" the words one might expect from the bishop are in fact contained in the refrain, which is strikingly juxtaposed with Jane's account of her sexual
romances. The hero is usually suave, debonair, handsome, and very rich. Daniel Bishop was quite as formally beautiful as his dining-room. And he was tall, . . . with broad shoulders made sleek by the sophisticated cut of his dark jacket. A dazzling white shirt with a hint of silk stripe accentuated the tanned skin and blue-black hair streaked with silver. His waist and hips were tapering, suggesting a greyhound leanness beneath the custom-tailored elegance of his clothes, a lethal grace. A dark
notion of woman as martyr. The French woman joins the German cause but falters when she overhears her lover impose the death penalty on a French Jew. To convince his Is Bakhtin a Feminist? 123 lover that his action was warranted, the German officer shows her a propaganda film that depicts the condemned man as a monster. The French woman then becomes even more determined to embrace her German captor because she has supposedly seen the truth. The fallacy that one propaganda film can defend the
the topics raised by Bakhtin, that of poetic language. The lyric, according to Bakhtin, revolves around monologue and excludes dialogue. James's reading of Pernette du Guillet's Rymes suggests that Bakhtin may have too narrowly defined his category of the dialogic by restricting it to novelistic discourse. She insists that poetry too is open to the challenge of divergent or opposing utterances. The seventy-eight poems of Du Guillet's work question the relationship between truth and language and
to Rabine, hidden within the masculine narrative, obscured by its logic and by what I would term its authoritative narcissism, we can find a subverted feminine narrative, an antinarrative that exists in opposition to the narrative proper. That this feminine element can indeed be revealed through analysis is evidenced by the powerful readings Rabine's approach provides. Her chapter on Charlotte Brontes Shirley (chapter 5), for example, skillfully examines the novel's competing narratives and