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Notes Towards Day 18: Queering Time in Eva's Man

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping

* sign-in shee

* your second web-event is due tomorrow @ 5--since you all got extensions, there are no more!

* don't forget that you also have a short posting due on Sunday evening
--thinking back on Eva's Man,
or forward into feminist economics; or reflections on related matters here and about...

* next Tuesday, feminist economist Heidi Hartmann will be joining us for @ least part of our class;

in preparation for her visit, I'm asking you to read something by my favorite femnist economist, the
New Zealander Marilyn Waring (you'll find the details on our home page) and a couple of that Hartmann herself co-authored; I'll post a range of possibilities by the end of today, but here's a very relevant teaser from Hartmann, Heidi, Ellen Bravo, Charlotte Bunch, Nancy Harsock, Roberta Spalter-Roth, Linda Williams and Maria Blanco.  “Bringing Together Feminist Theory and Practice: A Collective Interview.”  Signs 21.4 (1996): 917-951.  Web:

“a student who has been immersed in this theory comes to work in our office where we are organizing women to utilize and confront global policy systems like the UN.  She immediately starts to question how anybody can speak for women, but the question totally immobilizes her.  The theory has conditioned the student to feel that she cannot have a voice.  She is afraid that if she speaks, she will be accused of speaking for or ignoring somebody else.  The theory has important truth in it, but it has become immobilizing because it has not been done in conjunction with practice.” (932-933)

Our class session is being billed on the poster as "A Conversation with Heidi Hartmann about her Career"; I told her assistant I'd like her to have a casual conversation with us about how she got into the work she does, what compels her about it, what troubles her about it, and also about what difference the category 'woman' makes in the work she does, how she understands the difference between men and women....

Your role here is to come to class with three questions for Heidi:
these could be about her career trajectory, about the economic category "woman," about how she sees the persistent wage gap...whatever. But don't come without 3 questions!

II. last Tuesday, we had a silent discussion about the use-value of silence in Eva's Man,
seeded by 3 feminist theorists:
* Adrienne Rich's "Notes on Lying," which argues that we have a human obligation to speak with one another;
* Wendy Brown's "Freedom's Silences," which warns us against speaking,
because what we say can/will be used against us; and
* Megan Sweeney's Reading Is My Window, which argues for a more complex position, somewhere between the "silent pond," where Rich says "drowned things live," and the "incessant speech" that Brown thinks imprisons women in their pain.

I really liked the pace of the large-group conversation we had @ the end of class:
slowed down, perhaps, from writing first in silence?
We focused on where/how does Eva's Man illustrates each of these ideas--
and where/how it pushes back against them.
We also linked them back to understand better our own fears and silences in this classroom.

EP [who wasn't in class on Tuesday] wrote on Serendip:
Silence is a recurring theme in the novel Eva's Man. Which brings to mind the question: why do we choose to remain silent? One idea may be that we are afraid to speak. We are afraid of what consequences may befall us after we speak and that our words may cause harm, so we would rather be silent than be accountable. Another is that we truly don't know what to say. The words suddenly escape us (or were never there in the first place) and all that is left in our heads is total blank. But perhaps it is neither of these things. Maybe we aren't afraid. Maybe we really do know what to say. Maybe there is a kind of power in silence, in withholding the answers we have, knowing that it belongs only within ourselves. Perhaps there is a kind of greed in silence, a desire that we have for our words to be our own, never to exit our minds into the world.

Let's start today by checking back in on these questions.
Write for a few minutes:

Silence is...
Inside that silence is….

Read these aloud, slowly, responsively, with silences inbetween.

Did any of our sentences have "feminism" in them?
Write another sentence now with both "silence" and "feminism" in it.
Read these, again: slowly, responsively.

What are we saying? What are some feminist ways of understanding silences?

III. I want to use time (cripped, queered) as our second lens for re-reading this novel today.
EmmaBE wrote, I have been struggling since we talked about excessability to figure out how one can crip deadlines in a practical way that keeps the subjects of the deadline accountable…the ideal situation for students seems to be for their deadlines to be determined on a case by case basis. But who can determine how long exactly it will take for a project to be completed other than the person completing the project? What if they’re wrong? It seems that everyone’s time would have to be ‘cripped’ somehow. Who even operates on normative time?...How do I find my deadline? do I find a place for myself in normative institutions...if I can’t crip my surroundings...?

Judith Halberstam wrote, "a 'moment,' 'a persistent present,' or a 'queer temporality' overlooked by
Marxist geographers for whom the past represents the logic for the present, and the future represents the fruition of this logic (p. 11).

Jones herself said, "One of the things I was consciously concerned with was the technique from the oral storytelling tradition that could be used in writing....The book has layers of storytelling. Perceptions of time are important in the oral storytelling tradition in the sense that you can make rapid transitions between one period and the next, sort of direct transitions." [We all live simultaneously, in other words, in multiple time frames. Eva's Man illustrates this...which makes it very hard to read!]

Count off by 8's, get into small groups, to compare your readings of the book:
Spend some time, to start, telling each other HOW YOU READ IT...
what did you do when the story seemed to shift in place or time?
[how were such shifts signaled?]
what did you do when the pronoun references weren't clear?
how did you make sense of what was happening? (or give up the search?)
What were your reading tactics and strategies?
Help one another out here...

Illustrate this by picking a passage to "read" to one another, explaining how you "handled" it
(not necessarily describing what it means, but rather what you thought/"did" with it....)

Conclude by describing to one another how time works here.

IV. return to the large group: write down a question that remains for you re this novel--
go 'round and read these...