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Title: In the name of emancipation : debilitating patriarchal vision in Djuna Barnes's Ladies Almanack and Nightwood.
Authors: Lim, Yan Ling.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: The focus of this essay is on the possible subversion of the binary through the excessive and ironic use of visuality against the phallic vision by the female author Djuna Barnes. Her highly visual works will be explored in relation to patriarchal vision as well as feminist politics. More specifically, this essay discusses the paradox of her visually dense yet infamously difficult and ‘unknowable’ works giving rise to a possibly annihilative impulse of locating woman completely outside of hegemonic knowledge, which thus reinforces the binary that situates woman as being ‘unknowable’ in a retrogressive manner. However, I argue that Barnes does not regress into essentialism, a concept which demands stasis and absolutism. In Ladies Almanack, she shatters the singular, patriarchal vision into a multiplicity of shifting perspectives experienced by the reader. In Nightwood, Barnes attempts to subvert visual distancing, which is crucial to what Steven Connor explains as ‘the control which modernity exercises over nature [through] self-definition in the act of separation’ (Connor 204). Hence, this essay will explore whether Barnes posits a new way of seeing, or co-opts power from the ‘male gaze’ and answers Kaplan’s rhetorical question of the possibility of creating a ‘female gaze’, or disregards both possible routes out of the patriarchal mire and lapses into the realm of the Other. The implications of these possible readings will be examined in relation to the female identity.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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