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Changing the Subject: Authorship, Writing, and the Reader

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Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


I want to begin with a brief account of the circumstances involved in the construction and destination of this paper. For the past few years, I have been putting together a book about women’s writing; more specifically, about the act of reading women’s writing, and what might be at stake—critically, politically, historically—in such a project. Since I work “in French,” and since I am well aware that there is not a women’s writing, my examples (my corpus, as we used to say in the days of high structuralism) come primarily from what I think I can show is a tradition of female authorship in France. To situate my project within the field of French studies, rather than the more heterogeneous world of feminist studies, has meant locating my “problematic” within the discussion of writing and sexual difference that has been taking place on both sides of the Atlantic, in French and English departments, though with the usual jet (and intracontinental) lag, over the past fifteen years.


  • Feminist Theory
  • Feminist Criticism
  • Feminist Study
  • Woman Writer
  • Female Authorship

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  1. Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” in Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, ed. Donald F. Bouchard ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980 ), p. 120.

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  2. Roland Barthes, Sade/Fourier/Loyola, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976 ), pp. 8–9.

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  3. Naomi Schor, Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory, and French Realist Fiction ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1985 ), p. 127.

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  4. Andreas Huyssen, “Mapping the Postmodern,” New German Critique, no. 33 (Fall 1984), p. 44.

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  5. Elaine Showalter, “Women Who Write Are Women,” New York Times Book Review, December 16, 1984, p. 33.

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  6. Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” Socialist Review, no. 80 (May-April 1985), pp. 84–85.

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  7. Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1, no. 4 (Summer 1976):879.

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  8. Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982 ), p. 64.

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  9. Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence; Selected Prose, 1966–1979 ( New York: Norton, 1979 ), p. 39.

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  10. Adrienne Rich, “Blood, Bread, and Poetry: The Location of the Poet,” Massachusetts Review (1984), p. 536.

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  13. See Teresa de Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984 ).

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  14. Juliet Mitchell, “Psychoanalysis: A Humanist Humanity or a Linguistic Science?” in Women: The Longest Revolution ( New York: Pantheon, 1984 ), p. 241.

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© 1986 The Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

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Miller, N.K. (1986). Changing the Subject: Authorship, Writing, and the Reader. In: de Lauretis, T. (eds) Feminist Studies/Critical Studies. Language, Discourse, Society. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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