Jumat, 03 Agustus 2012

Jane Marcus on the non-canonical

I don't currently have the internet at home, so I'm popping up scheduled posts when I can - so this is something to ponder on over the weekend.  The painting is Woman Reading in an Interior (1915) by Vaclav Vytlacil, which isn't remotely related to the quotation I wanted to post (except that both intrigue me.)  It's a potentially controversial, but interesting, excerpt I read by Jane Marcus (feminist theorist)...

I would caution against fundamentalist feminists’ over-literal reading of texts without the radical unsettling processes which contemporary theory has provided to keep us honest intellectually.  I am nervous about producing a generation of students who have never been to the library, who practice refined techniques on a body of texts already chosen by their professors – not the canon, but the highly-privileged “non-canonical.”  I do not want to read another paper on “The Yellow Wallpaper” or The Awakening. […] Since aesthetic value is not at issue here, other sets of lost texts might enliven our debates and bring about a dialogue which is not about mastery or decoding of texts but about reading and writing together.
Thoughts?  I think it lends support to feminist reprinting by Virago and Persephone, and also cautions against non-canonical texts becoming canonical by virtue of their accepted 'outsider'-ness...
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