The Erotics of Talk: Womens Writing and Feminist Paradigms

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byCarla Kaplan

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Is feminism in "crisis?" With many feminists now questioning identification and focusing on differences between women, what is the fate of feminist criticism's traditional imperative to rescue women's stories and make their voices heard? In this provocative rereading of the classic texts of the feminist literary canon, Carla Kaplan takes a hard look at the legacy of feminist criticism and argues that important features of feminism's own canon have been overlooked in the rush to rescue and identify texts. African-American women'stexts, she demonstrates, often dramatize their distrust of their readers, their lack of faith in "the cultural conversation," through strategies of self-silencing and "self-talk." At the same time, she argues, the homoerotics of women's writing has too often gone unremarked. Not only does longingfor an ideal listener draw women's texts into a romance with the reader, but there is an erotic excess which is part of feminist critical recuperation itself. Drawing on a wide range of resources, from sociolinguistics and anthropology to literary theory, Kaplan's highly readable study proposes a new model for understanding and representing "talk." She supplies fresh readings of such feminist classics as Jane Eyre, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Incidents inthe Life of a Slave Girl, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and The Color Purple, revealing how their "erotics of talk" works as a rich political allegory and form of social critique.

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From Our Editors

'A deft and courageous book which stares in the face some of the critical impasses of current feminist theory. It is a book which offers to feminism real grounds for hope and real chances for movement.' Helena Michie, Rice University

From the Publisher

Is feminism in "crisis?" With many feminists now questioning identification and focusing on differences between women, what is the fate of feminist criticism's traditional imperative to rescue women's stories and make their voices heard? In this provocative rereading of the classic texts of the feminist literary canon, Carla Kaplan t...

From the Jacket

'A deft and courageous book which stares in the face some of the critical impasses of current feminist theory. It is a book which offers to feminism real grounds for hope and real chances for movement.' Helena Michie, Rice University

Carla Kaplan is Associate Professor in the English Department at Yale where she also teaches in Women's Studies, African-American Studies, American Studies. She publishes widely on feminist theory and criticism, women's writing, African-American literature, American literature, and modernism.

other books by Carla Kaplan

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.14 × 0.75 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019509915X

ISBN - 13:9780195099157

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From Our Editors

'A deft and courageous book which stares in the face some of the critical impasses of current feminist theory. It is a book which offers to feminism real grounds for hope and real chances for movement.' Helena Michie, Rice University

Editorial Reviews

"The work of consciousness-raising, Carla Kaplan insists, is not over. And so she dramatically sets to work, raising the reader's, by writing a wise criticism full of tiers and substrata, each reconsidered feminist classic allowed its three-dimensionality, a bracing queer vertigo restored toliterary conceptions of "talk" and "audition." May this pithy, informed, engaged study propel its readers back into conversation--rough and necessary--about the explosives of conversation."--Wayne Koestenbaum, Yale University