MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Filling the History with Certainty
Reading Janine Marchessault's "Is the Dead Author A Woman", there was an excerpt that really stood out for me in defining authorship in relations with women. Marchessault writes, "If there is a resistance to feminism on the part of some women, a desire not to identify, and a desire not to identify with women, it is perhaps because a history, without memory, continues to divide us negatively" (Marchessault 88). A "history without memory" is no history at all, especially when it concerns a collective identity where memory is the cornerstone of defining that identity. In the case of women's authorship, this lack of history leads to a dissipation of influence, authority, and control of women's identity as authors that instead of bringing about a powerful source of affirmation of women author's collective identity both socially and politically, "continues to divideâ€¦ negatively."
Then she writes what I personally believe is the most important statement of the whole text. She explains, "The task before us, then is to fill that history not with uncertainty but with many certitudes." When reading about this task, I began to wonder, how one can begin to fill that history with "many certitudes". Then it hit me how the history of my own life as a reader has been defined by monumental women authors who have given me so much opportunity to find my identity as a creative individual. None stand out more than Beverly Cleary in my younger days, Lois Lowry in my middle school years, Zora Neale Hurston in that period called high school, and most recently Barbara Kingsolver. The more I reflect on this sentence, and fulfill this task of filling this history to the best of my ability with certain cornerstones, the more I realize I can answer the question that Janine Marchessault asks us, "Is the dead author a woman?" with a "certainly not so."
These women authors live on in the heart of my imagination.