- Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, and: Sea Changes: Essays on Culture and Feminism, and: Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction (review)
- Minnesota Review
- Duke University Press
- Number 32, Spring 1989 (New Series)
- pp. 150-154
- View Citation
- Additional Information
150 the minnesota review such as class, race, and sexual preference, may often prove even more debilitating. Robinson explains that "each of these contributes its historic specificity to social conditions and to the destiny and consciousness of individual women .... They are social definitions, based on the existence and interaction of groups of people and of historical forces." In the years since this essay was written, an exclusive concern with the social reaUty and literary representation of white, middle class, heterosexuals has become increasingly untenable. Like Robinson , Nina Auerbach emphasizes the differences among women in her essay "Engorging the Patriarchy." On one level, the essay operates as a sensitive account of her own experience as a woman in the profession, a kind of mini-intellectual autobiography. But, in tracing private experience against the pubUc practice of feminist literary criticism over some fifteen years, the essay also, in many ways, encapsulates the essence—and history—ofthe American mode of feminist literary criticism. In a powerful conclusion Auerbach writes: "Writing suffused in experience and literary vision suffused in the expansive experience of writing may not compose a pure ideology, but they do, I hope, compose one that is durable, able to demystify, diminish, and finaUy engorge the power that subordinated us; and what is most important, able to change each time our experience changes." Almost without exception, the thirteen essays in this coUection are inteUectuaUy vigorous, extremely interesting and weU-written, and provocative. Most of them have already made an important contribution to feminist scholarship. What seems problematic about the volume, however, is why these essays needed to be republished in the first place and on what grounds do they constitute an anthology? Benstock's coUection does not bring together scattered but important essays since ten have been pubUshed together elsewhere. Nor does it reflect the most recent diversity ofissues in feminist literary criticism, as Catharine R. Stimpson readily (and ironically) acknowledges when she notes what's missing and affirms that "religion matters; colonialization matters; tribe matters; nationality matters; time matters." In fact, Stimpson's introductory statement, though eloquent, perceptive and forceful, disappoints by its refusal either to provide any illuminating information about why the anthology contains these specific essays, as opposed to other possibilities, or to explain why some other issues are omitted. As far as I can teU, the coUection is no more than what is implied by the bafflingly broad title, Feminist Issues in Literary Scholarship. If the anthology is supposed to reflect "the diversity of feminist reading strategies and the premises that undergird such interpretive strategies," as the dustjacket claims, then theproject misses the mark because, quite frankly, there isn't a whole lot of diversity here. LAURA DOAN Feminist Practice andPoststructuralist Theory by Chris Weedon. Oxford: Basil BlackweU, 1987. pp. 187. $14.95 (paper). Sea Changes: Essays on Culture andFeminism by Cora Kaplan. London: Verso, 1986. pp. 232. $10.95 (paper). Technologies ofGender: Essays on Theory, Film, andFiction by Teresa de Lauretis. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1987. pp. 151. $7.95 (paper). Chris Weedon's Feminist Practice A. Poststructuralist Theory undertakes to introduce to both specialized and general audiences the parameters of feminist theory and feminisms within the broader outline of an historically contextuaUzed literary criticism. To accomplish such a project in less than 200 pages, Weedon necessarily substitutes summary for actual engagement; as reductive as her foundation stones are, however, FeministPractice succeeds in providing a good introductory survey of contemporary critical schools and their application to feminist thinking for those suffering from a resistance to theory. Reviews 151 A polemic addressed to Uberai humanists who speak what is "still the dominant discourse in Western societies" (112), Weedon's book uses feminist poststructural technique to expose the blinders of feminist humanism and to propose its antithesis in a new "feminist rationality." Weedon never loosens her grip on feminist Uberai humanism, repeatedly pointing to its regard for commonsense perceptions of society and the world. It is this commonsense approach which provides the basis for humanist claims of natural social power relations, natural biologically based gender divisions, transhistorical social formations, language as mimetic of experience, and the reaUst literature representative of social reaUty. If Weedon never lets her reader forget...