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kayla's picture

gender in literature?

 Today’s discussion on Seeing Gender hit a weird place for me—I’ve been thinking a lot lately about literature and authority, and it was interesting to hit upon these issues through the context of Acker’s sought “escape” into the books she read. One of the most moving quotes I found in the reading was “I am Alice who ran into a book in order to find herself. I have found only the reiterations, the mimesis of patriarchy, or my inability to be. No body anywhere. Who am I? Has anybody seen gender?” (84). The books she read as a child were supposed to be another avenue to the adventure she felt she was denied as a girl. Literature is often used as a passage way into another world or dimension that the reader would otherwise never have a chance to visit. What happens, though, is that literature more often reflects the realities of society. Writers still write what they know and see around them, and I think that if patriarchy exists in our world, it will be reflected in literature even if the author is hoping to encourage different perceptions (See Acker’s description of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass: the entire story is from Carroll’s imagination but gender issues can still be found within the text if looked for). Now, as an adult, Acker realized that what she had been looking for all along (a reflection of her self) doesn’t exist in the literature she had read as a child growing up. This is where I start to question my assumptions and seem to go back on an opinion that’s pretty engrained in me: “But what if language need not be mimetic?” (84). My usual stance is that the context in which an author is writing heavily influences the literature that the author composes, and the events of the time period or details about the authors life can often be found in the text somehow (i.e. language mirrors life). But can’t literature then reflect imagination—something outside and even sometimes unaffected by reality? Would we still be able to call it literature? This is the possible exterior of patriarchal definitions, I think, in which Acker can find the body, but how we use language in literature must change before we can get to that point.



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