The Feminist Difference: Literature, Psychoanalysis, Race and Gender

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Embattled and belittled, demonized and deemed passe, this text argues that feminism in the late 1990s seems becalmed without being calm. It is as true in literary criticism as elsewhere in the culture - yet it is in literary criticism that these essays locate renewed promises, possibilities, and applications of feminist thought. In readings from an array of texts - legal, literary, cinematic, philosophical and psychonalytical - literary theorist Barbara Johnson demonstrates that the conflicts and uncertainties that beset feminism are signs not of a dead end, but of a creative turning-point. She argues that literature is essential for feminism because it is the place where impasses can be kept and opened for examination, where questions can be guarded and not forced into a premature validation of the available paradigms. In her book the literature does not appear as a predetermined set of works but as a mode of cultural work, the work of making readable those impossible and necessary things that cannot yet be spoken.