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The Female Genesis. Creativity, Self and Gender

  • ID: 2249269
  • Book
  • December 1997
  • 272 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Is creation male, as the Bible seems to suggest? Does creativity always belong to the male element? Is there no female genesis? This exciting book argues against fashionable trends in contemporary feminisms that wish to abandon ′woman′ as a flawed and oppressive term, regarding masculinity and femininity as unwanted binaries that attempt to subvert gender as oppression. Instead the author argues for the need to revalue feminine origins, to make room for the feminine element in creation and explore the predicament of the female creator.

Nicole Ward Jouve argues for a necessary relation to male and female, inside and outside, in the creative act and the formation of a creative sense of self. She sees both being engendered and engendering, with the attendant figures of the Mother and the Father, as part and parcel of the ways gender is experienced. The book explores these themes by drawing upon the work of writers in French and English, male and female, such as Balzac, Lawrence, de Beauvoir, Woolf, Carter, Roberts and Plath. The book takes stock of both French and Anglo–American– feminisms, and debates with psychoanalysis as well as literature through figures such as Freud, Jung, Lacan, Winnicott and Milner.

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Introduction: Male and Female Made (S)he Them.

In Father′s Lack. .

Part I: Gendering the Female: Good/Bad Daughters. .

1. Balzac′s A Daughter of Eve and the Apple of Knowledge.

2. Maleness in the Act: the Case of the Papin Sisters.

Part II: Masculine/Feminine: The Battle of the Sexes and the First World War. .

Troublesome Mothers. .

Part III: The Female Creator. .

6. ′Mother is a Figure of Speech...′: Angela Carter.

7. ′No One′s Mother′: Can the Mother Write Poetry?.

Part IV: Creation, Gender and the Imaginary. .

8 Metaphors and Narrative: Of Tongues, Shells, Boats, Oranges... and the Sea.

Conclusion: New Directions.

9. The Name of the Father.

10 Male and Female Made They Them.


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"All too often French thinking loses body and complexity in English, but with Nicole Ward Jouve′s criticism the effect is magically quite the reverse. Here she analyses the genesis of texts – their mothering and fathering – and dares to differ from those postmodernists who want to deconstruct gender itself.
Female Genesis is a moving, controversial and revealing book which will give anyone interested in contemporary debates about writing and gender food for thought."
Lorna Sage, University of East Anglia

"This book is ... full of risk–taking and unexpected, often dazzling, turns and connections. It is both erudite and bold ... it is witty, self–aware and often ironic; sometimes it is lyrical and sensuous ... all of these essays ... are gems." Linda Anderson, University of Newcastle

"In her scintillating new collection, Nicole Ward Jouve writes against the grain of much recent feminist thinking in Europe and North America, yet she does so on behalf of a new inclusive feminist awareness. Hers is one of those necessary critical voices. She speaks as a gendered autobiographical subject, yet addresses men as well as women and reminds her readers at every turn of their common humanity. A wise and beautiful book." Malcolm Bowie, All Souls College, Oxford

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