Friday, December 2, 2011

Ending My Semester's Thesis Work with an Ellipsis Seems So Right

I've written about three theorists on this blog thus far, which I'm going to count as my semester's quota since I've written over ten double-spaced pages (yes, I counted) and the rest of my thesis-ing peers are getting away with just ten (ok, some of my stuff isn't exactly "academic"...). Bitterness at having to do end-of-semester work aside, though, I want to take one last post to think about how my most recent theorist of interest, Jelinek, fits in with Price and Butler. I'm not going to write another dialogue, as it's late and I'm subsisting on cough drops since my loving roommate shared her cold with me, so I'll just process this in a sort of freeform way that no one except myself will probably understand. So here I go...

I think I'm seeing Jelinek as a sort of middle ground between Butler and Price. Butler's all lofty and like, "Hey, we're all one big family!" which is great, except that no one perceives it as true. And Price is kind of combative in that she sees disability autobiography as actively rejecting "diagnosis." So while Butler's trying to get us to see humanity as one great collective ("Kumbaya" comes to mind, playing softly in the background as I type this), Price is drawing lines between the "disabled" and the "normative" population, occasionally suggesting that they might overlap, but ultimately seeing the differences between the two. So where is Jelinek in all this? Acting as a mediator between the two theorists, of course. Jelinek doesn't claim that women's autobiography resists anything per se - just that it differs from male autobiographical tradition and thus has a different result.

Both male and female autobiographical traditions have an agenda. But whereas male autobiographical tradition refuses to acknowledge the personal in favor of the political, female autobiographical tradition attempts to weld the two in a fragmented, disorganized, and unresolved way. Butler implies some sort of resolution in her theory about how all identities are intertwined and how we could prevent conflict is we could all just see that. Price, by contrast, does not speak of resolution at all, but also does not have the same sort of tenuous marriage of the political and the personal that Jelinek claims in present in women's autobiographical tradition. 

I'm going to stop myself from applying all of this to Hornbacher (though I'm itching to - really!), but I do want to suggest that a possible theoretical basis off of which I could work could be a mixture of these three theorists - how Hornbacher uses components of each theory to ultimately construct a politicized, yet highly personal narrative "I." Collectivity from Butler, politicization from Price, and how Hornbacher negotiates the two from Jelinek. Oh the possibilities...  

1 comment:

  1. So let's begin, when we talk this week, talking about your own counter-narrative of bitter resentment... how seriously am I to take it and how fiercely are you going to cling to it?

    Those matters out of the way, let's see....I'd like to re-order your spectrum...I think Price uses people w/ disabilities to argue for accomodations for us all... they are sort of like canaries in the mine shaft, calling attention to cultural structures that serve no one very well.... whereas I think Jelinek writes from/in an era when women's narratives were actively being offered as counters to conventional male forms of representation ... how much are they canaries? You tell me....

    When we talk, I'll want to nudge more, too, re: the relation between the personal and political (also old territory for 2nd wave feminists....)

    Other agenda items:
    1) what have you learned so far?
    2) what are your questions?
    3) what’s our agreement for what you’ll be doing in the next month?
    4) planning for spring: can we meet on alternative Wednesdays? a.m. or p.m.?
    5) are we going to continue using this blog as the site, in between, for your writing and my responding? (i like it, i like seems more organic, responsive, less fixed than a static word file....but how are you doing on the public nature of it all?)
    6) also send me an electronic copy of your proposal, please --or else post it here!
    thanks, til later,
    looking forward to this!