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  • Poetics of negation: The personal in the writings of Carla Lonzi, Hélène Cixous, Moyra Davey, Frances Stark, and Anne Boyer

Bueti, Federica, 2020, Thesis, Poetics of negation: The personal in the writings of Carla Lonzi, Hélène Cixous, Moyra Davey, Frances Stark, and Anne Boyer PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

In Poetics of Negation, I set up a dialogue between the feminist positions of Hélène Cixous and Carla Lonzi and the contemporary writings of Frances Stark, Moyra Davey, and Anne Boyer and examine how these writers have developed and experimented with a set of practices of refusal to challenge hegemonic narratives of the self. In reading their works, I attend to the forces of negation that move their writings and listen to the many ways in which they express their “no” to the suppression of female voices, the commodification of experience and the exploitation of subjectivities in line with capitalist ideas of competitive self-realisation and consumerist self-branding. My aim is to shed new light on the conceptual approaches of écriture féminine and scrittura autocoscienziale developed by Cixous and Lonzi in the 1970s, and the vital roles that they still play in understanding and inspiring contemporary writing practices such as those of Moyra Davey, Frances Stark and Anne Boyer.

The work of the writers discussed in this thesis can be situated at the crossroads between philosophy, literature, autobiography and criticism in what Cixous describes as an “improper” way of inhabiting the space of culture and writing from the place of difference. Cixous calls this insurgent writing écriture féminine; Lonzi appeals to the women of the feminist collective of Rivolta Femminile to practice “deculturalisation” in order to “wear off” that which ties women to male culture. They both envision a new language and a new vocabulary to express their political subjectivity. They reject uniform models of optimised selves and make writing the space in which to disrupt hegemonic narratives and multiply the differences shaping and fracturing subjectivities. Their critical analysis of the hegemonic norms and mechanisms governing the discourses of cultural legitimacy is rendered more complex by their experience as women working in the field of art and culture. By drawing on the insights offered by Lonzi’s writing and Cixous’ écriture féminine, in Poetics of Negation I attempt a reading of the works of Davey, Stark and Boyer that shed light on the imaginative power of their refusal and the many instances of “no” to the ways in which capital diminishes womanhood, those that take the form of a fragmented, precarious, heterogenous, promiscuous, exuberant, dialogical and opaque personal accounts. Together, they work towards a different culture in which experiments in the uses of the personal are shared to energise the refusal of normative models that patriarchy and capitalism perpetuate, and inspire the communal re-making of subjectivities in the sign of complex relations and differences through reading and writing. In bringing these practices together, as a community of “feminine” refusalists, and in providing an overview of these practices and their concerns, politics, methods, findings and forms this thesis hopes to contribute to their collective effort.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Linguistics > Q200 Comparative Literary studies
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2020 17:11
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2020 17:11
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4394
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