Declarations of Independence: Some Responses to Feminism
The rise since the 1960s of the modern women’s movement has resulted in and been fostered by attempts to create a feminist poetics. Literary history has undergone revisionist scrutiny, to expose the stereotypical misrepresentation of women by many male authors, to document the silencing of women over the centuries, to emphasise their (un)conscious strategies of accommo-dation to the masculine literary canon and its privileged genres and to construct alternative female literary traditions. (The affinities with working-class experience are indicated by the interest of Tony Harrison, that spokesman for the stammerers and mute inglorious Miltons, in Tillie Olsen’s Silences (1980.)1 Reacting against the constraints of the dominant culture on the speaking positions open to women, some radical feminists have sought to evolve a specifically female discourse, an écriture féminine that would voice the feminine unconscious unrepressed by what Jacques Lacan describes as the Symbolic Order and its linguistic Law of the Father. 2
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