Skirting the subject : pursuing language in the works of Adrienne Rich, Susan Griffin, and Beverly Dahlen
Sammanfattning: In this study I delve into the strategic certainty and theoretical quandary that characterize both the practice and the assessment of “women’s language.” My contention is that “women’s language” is a composite of hypothetical speculations, political intentions, interpretive practices, and ethical convictions. Consequently, the validity of “women’s language” is dependent on an economy of belief and consensus rather than on fixed linguistic features or absolute stylistic distinctions. Proceeding from this premise, I draw attention to what might be called the compositional legibility of “women’s language.”To illustrate this point, I examine the critical assumptions and textual initiatives of three feminist poets: Adrienne Rich, Susan Griffin, and Beverly Dahlen. Taken together they cover a wide range of aesthetic departures and travel various textual routes. All three persistently focus on the codes and structures of language from a feminist perspective. What they have in common is a desire to revitalize language and thus invoke new positions for female identity. Although their discursive strategies overlap and intertwine, I accent documentation, dramatization, and invention as the characteristic writing modes of Rich’s, Griffin’s, and Dahlen’s work respectively. These distinctions are relevant when considering the means by which Rich, Griffin, and Dahlen conceive woman as a subject of changing significance and they are beneficial when examining the degree to which change is actualized in their language revisions. The differences between their writing strategies signal important variances within feminist thinking. Thus, in the final section of my study, I attempt to relate the diverse modes of “women’s language” to the contingencies of conscious and unconscious factors which elicit change.
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