Frankenstein Essay Feminism

Ellen Moers begins her discussion by indicating that she will explore the works of "the major women writers, writers we read and shall always read whether interested or not in the fact that they happened to be women. She argues that "nothing so sets her apart from the generality of writers of her own time, and before, and for long afterward, [as] her early and chaotic experience, at the very time she became an author, with motherhood. That Mary Shelley was pregnant for most of her years with Shelley is true.But the fact of their sex is, frankly, fascinating -- one of those facts which raise questions, open perspectives, illuminate and explain" (p. Her basic, guiding questions are: "What did it matter that so many of the great writers of modern times have been women? Pregnant at sixteen, and almost constantly pregnant throughout the following five years; yet not a secure mother for she lost most of her babies soon after they were born; and not a lawful mother, for she was not married -- not at least when, at the age of eighteen, Mary Godwin began to write Frankenstein. But this is to assume in Moers's context that Mary Shelley was unhappy about those pregnancies, while Mary Shelley's Journal and Letters suggest otherwise.As much because of her actual accomplishments as because she has received extensive theoretical attention without the benefit of her entire corpus edited and available, Mary Shelley, taken as a "case study," provides a revealing example of the need for feminist critics to redefine the role of feminist editors in the establishment of a feminist canon, both past and future.

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From the present predicament of non-gender-specific editorial principles, exceedingly gender-specific feminist theories, and with a steady focus on "the thing itself" -- Mary Shelley's letters, journals, fiction, and editorial work -- I will hazard to piece together some principles regarding editorial theory and feminist perspectives.

The diverse parts I will discuss are (1) feminist theory, (2) general editorial theory, (3) feminist editorial theory, (4) Mary Shelley as a case study, (5) the editor as shaper/creator or "an agenda re: editing gender." I hope separate elements come together more successfully here than they did in Victor Frankenstein's more overreaching bricolage. Classical feminism was conceived of as an end of false barriers and boundaries; as the end of segregationist fictions and restraints; as the end of the Great Multiple Lie." that reduced all women's thought to the single perspective and theme of writing, thinking, and seeing solely as a function of being a woman.

The editors of a 1990 volume titled Conflicts in Feminism sum up the current situation: "Discussions within feminist theory today are racked by intense conflicts. Toril Moi has admirably analyzed the opposing views, within a context of "open discussion of differing perspectives" that has as its "principal objective" the political aim "to expose, not to perpetuate, patriarchal practices." On the one side, represented in Moi's discussion by the critic Elaine Showalter, are proponents of the Anglo-American school.

While feminists have in principle tended to agree that difference is a more productive theoretical and political category than either universalizing consensus or divisive oppositions, in practice, actual differences within feminist discourse have tended to erupt into separate camps. Characteristically, these writers have "a unitary vision" (as opposed to "pluralist viewpoints") that expects and requires that a text reflect the autobiographical experience, both intellectual and physical, of the female as female.

According to Moi, that paradigm female is in fact the "I" of a "particular class and experience" (p.

2) and "allies itself with Georg Lukacs" in favoring the form of writing known as "critical or bourgeois realism" (p. For this school, "political art is limited to the struggle against sexism" (p.

4-5), that is, that refuses the difference of the female.

If the Anglo-Americans are rooted in bourgeois realism, the French take their cue from, and add to, Derridian deconstructivist theory, which argues language "is structured as an endless deferral of meaning, and any search for an essential, absolutely stable meaning must therefore be considered metaphysical" (p. Thus, traditional, largely male-constructed and dominated literary theory and writing may be reconstructed and reviewed to include the context of female literary theory and writing, the two to form one continuing cycle of deferral and multiplicity.

4) and has as an unspoken premise that "a literary text" should "yield the reader a certain security, a firm perspective from which to judge the world" (p. The rival feminist view adheres to the French critical posture as voiced by such critics as Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, and Julia Kristeva.

They regard the "integrated self" as a "phallic self" that refuses "all conflict, contradiction and ambiguity" (pp.


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