THE DISAVOWAL OF THE FEMALE “KNOWER”: reading literature in the light of pamela sue anderson’s project on vulnerability

Angelaki 25 (1-2):156-164 (2020)
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Pamela Sue Anderson’s project about vulnerability and the silencing of the female speaker began with her realization of the female philosopher’s position within academia. Exposing the disavowal of the female “knower,” Anderson lays bare the mechanisms of excluding women from intellectual, artistic and religious discourse. Moving beyond the negative configuration of vulnerability associated with an openness to violence, Anderson refigures it as an openness to affection. The denial of thus refigured vulnerability has led to the literal and discursive oppression of women through the “wilful ignorance” of their intellectual, emotional and sexual needs. In this article Filipczak analyses manifestations of this oppression exposed by female writers who illustrate the predicament discussed by Anderson in their fiction. Starting with Anderson’s refiguring of Antigone as a figure of dissent and marginality in her early work, Filipczak discusses Maggie Tulliver from The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, Morag Gunn from The Diviners by Margaret Laurence and Mary Magdalene from The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Michèle Roberts. What connects these characters is the fact that they are disavowed as knowers in intellectual, artistic or theological endeavours by male figures of authority who deny vulnerability as an openness to affection, and rely on social collusion with such denial. The analysis also refers to Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Aritha van Herk’s Places Far From Ellesmere.



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Gender and the infinite: On the aspiration to be all there is.Pamala Sue Anderson - 2001 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50 (1/3):191-212.

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