Feminist fiction making


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Feminist fiction making

  1. 1. Feminist fictionmakingBy Carol-Anne Croker
  2. 2. “...The order which [the work of art] professes is merelyan imaginary order, projected onto disorder, thefictive resolution of ideological conflicts, aresolution so precarious that it is obvious only in thevery letter of the text where incoherence andincompleteness burst forth. It is no longer a questionof defects but of indefensible informers... the workderives its form from this incompleteness whichenables us to identify the presence of a conflict atits borders. In the defect of the work is articulated anew truth...” Peter Mackerey . p.103
  3. 3. Feminist fictionmaking> This presentation today is to discuss the articulation between my artefact and exegesis six months from completion.> For the exegesis I have presented three Conference papers which are presently functioning as the first draft. The first chapter is discussing feminist writing, what it is and why it needs to be defined. Many of you will remember my last Colloquium where I spoke of writing a female space, utilising the conceptual framework of gynesis to challenge what I contend is the dominant phallocentric construction of women within cultural texts. (Women as object of male gaze).
  4. 4. Feminist fiction making> The second chapter locates my writing within the contemporary market, i.e, popular women‟s fiction. This chapter reflects on the idea that popular women‟s fiction is often dismissively labelled as Chick Lit. I am seeking to unpack the hidden value systems and ideology operating as objective genre classification.> I am endeavouring to mobilise the term Chick Lit as a subversive and disruptive term, and not that associated with post-feminist backlash. Integral to this is the notions of sexuality and power.> Who is watching?> Who is doing?> Who is being watched and done unto?> Why?
  5. 5. Feminist fiction making> The third chapter based upon my Conference presentations is looking at the notions of high and low culture, literary and pulp fiction.> This chapter necessitates an examination of the Australian literary market.> Who is published and by whom?> What is the content?> What is the genre?> What iconography is being utlised?> How is Australia and „Australianness‟ represented in our fiction?> Is our fiction for a globalised market or a national one, and does this matter?> How?
  6. 6. Feminist fiction making> “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way around” David Lodge‟s character in The British Museum is Falling Down, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1983(1965), p.56.> This distinction between sex in life and sex in books: what Brain Castro called “the functional notion of representation” is an illusion; the paths of the world and the paths of the book are not parallel. Brian Castro, Necessary idiocy in Looking for Estrellita. St Lucia. UQP (1999) p. 30 As cited by Xavier Pons, Messengers of Eros: Representations of Sex in Australian Writing. Cambridge Scholar Publishing. (2009)
  7. 7. Feminist fiction making> The fourth chapter in the exegesis will look at the methodological and theoretical frames within which I am situating my analysis and reflexivity.> This is where I am currently working.> From this exploration it is envisaged that I will be able to identify how my journal entries along this writer‟s journey feeds into my exegetical conceptualising and in turn how this nexus/intersection is operating within the artefact.I have called this presentation feminist fictionmaking because: In order give an example of how I am constructing this exploration, I will be using a model developed by Dr Enza Gandolpho from Victoria University, in her recent journal article, Feminist Fictionmaking, New Writing. Vol 5 (2) pp 140-149. (2008).
  8. 8. Feminist fiction making> “Fictionmaking is a form of cultural production and social construction that can and should interrogate”> Feminists novelists being political encountable, writing to challenge perceptions.> Novelists create a deeper understanding of ourselves and others and feminist fictionwriters have political „intention‟> Through the intention of the writer cannot be said to construct the meaning of the work, it is a crucial aspect of the fabric that forms the work.> {This is where the exegesis sits} a basis for self reflective, critical approach aimed at illuminating the feminist fictionmaking process. (emphasis mine)
  9. 9. Feminist fiction making> Gandolfo insists that we demysitify “the writer” and “writing process”.> Fiction is an area where this deconstruction and interrogation can occur… fictionmaking calls up notions of imagination, imbued with signification linked to concepts of “creativity”.> In this sense (the craft of) and the writer themselves becomes neutered, a conduit for the mystical/magical or is positioned as „deviant‟ : a genius.> Over the course of my PhD I have been investigating whether writing is this mystical unknowable process, or a craft to be learned, practiced and honed. This is my PhD journey, to interrogate fictionmaking.
  10. 10. Feminist fiction making> Gandolfo cites Zavarzadah & Morton , 1994: 87 Theory as Resistance: politics and culture after post-structuralism. The Guildford Press. NY & London.> So as a feminist writing fiction my intentionality is always political. It is subjective, grounded in constructions of self:> self as woman,> self as thinker,> self as writer> and self as researcher.> Thus, the or me as subject is always in process. I am the subject being constructed throughout my PhD.
  11. 11. Feminist fiction making> Gandolfo uses Écriture feminine (Cixous 1975:p.351) to articulate her intentionality in her novel Swimming.> The intentionality [and I would contend Gandolfo‟s politics] is an “attempt to articulate that which is actively silenced in the dominant masculine realms of experience”…> Thus feminist fictionmaking can interrogate that which is taboo.> One in the realm of the taboo, many structures and systems are challenged . Thus writing taboo subjects within the Academy is a subversive activity.> Gandolfo‟s taboo subject in her novel is childlessness; the mis- functioning womb, the “killer womb” which then constructs her female subject as deviant. She calls this writing in the wild zone. Gandolfo. 2008.p.142
  12. 12. Feminist fiction making> This brings me directly to my artefact and my intentionality. Two and one half years ago when I began this journey I wanted to interrogate the position of the author/creator in relation to the text.> I wanted to cause disruption (for the reader) in the text, to challenge the device of the omniscient third person narrator with the inference that the author is situated outside the text, and the authorial voice is given dominance.> If I had chosen to write memoir or using auto-ethnography I needed to firmly position myself as author and subject within and outside the text.> This would necessitate positioning my work in the world of the real. These characters and events actually existed outside the text in a past, or at least in memory constructed in the present. This would have required Ethics clearance to write the living.
  13. 13. Feminist fiction makingAgain I state categorically, I am a coward.I will not risk having my reader/subjects being ‘haunted’ by differentperspectives and to demand they reflect and question their notions of self.I do want the reader to interrogate the subtext , the politics and the wildzone.Thus I have situated my novel within hybridity or faction to use the popularterminology.
  14. 14. Feminist fiction makingThis brings me directly to my artefact and my intentionality. Twoand one half years ago when I began this journey I wanted tointerrogate the position of the author/creator in relation to the text.I wanted to cause disruption (for the reader) in the text, tochallenge the device of the omniscient third person narrator withthe inference that the author is situated outside the text, and theauthorial voice is given dominance.If I had chosen to write memoir or using auto-ethnography Ineeded to firmly position myself as author and subject within andoutside the text.
  15. 15. Feminist fiction making> I confess to being a coward, I wanted to avoid any possible controversy or potential litigation threat. By writing my construction of „real‟ people, and actual events I would invoke selectivity and subjectivity. Mt „truth‟ may not be the „truth‟ of the subjects.> Hence onerous (yet necessary) Ethics clearance… to protect the back of myself and of course the University. The nature of the game is being „risk averse‟ and „safe‟.> I do not want to write a „safe space”. I am writing in Gandolfo‟s wild zone. I am writing the taboo and the deviant.> The Artefact is entitled Walking with Madness. My colleagues in this room know that I have a mental illness, Bi-polar Mood Disorder.There are times when I am clinically „mad‟, and thus constructed socially as „deviant‟.> This is the space where I can unpack notions of normalcy and the threatening… [perhaps it is the realm of Aristotlean tragedy : fear and pity]
  16. 16. Feminist fiction making> Thus my „factional novel‟ features the lives of three women, friends living in Melbourne circa 1974, 1984, and 1994.> Each character is to a degree „mad‟ , „delusional‟, or in other ways… socially deviant. They live around and within the „night- world of the theatre‟., a place where deviance has a „natural home‟.> The three selected narrative times, allow us to reflect on what is considered „normal‟ for women in this time and of the characters ages, late teens-early twenties, thirties and then finally forties.> Why these times of life?> I turn to notions of female archetypes within traditional narratives. [ I am sure that you will be familiar with these , as you were with Mark’s rhymes yesterday.]
  17. 17. virginmaiden
  18. 18. temptress
  19. 19. wife
  20. 20. madonna
  21. 21. whore
  22. 22. croneFeminist fiction making Crone?
  23. 23. witchBaba yaga
  24. 24. Feminist fictionmakingAnd my characters’ deviance? butch maiden / temptress wife / whore bitchbimbo mother/ stepmother ballbreaker
  25. 25. Feminist fiction making> And of course… feminist!!