MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
So I wrote about half a blog earlier today and then went to class, etc-- When I got back, I found that my computer had decided to install updates, restart, and wipe out my document. So this is take 2--
Overall I liked the Marchessault reading, it expressed a lot of the issues I had with the readings from last week. I find it interesting that the author be declared dead in a historical moment when more and more marginalized people were starting to write/gain access to the literary establishment. While I wasn't necessarily on board with the Freudian stuff, I enjoyed her discussion women's writing and feminist culture. Marchessault critiques the idea that there is one authentic "women's experience," but also recognizes that experience is important, in a pluralistic, non-essentializing manner. In this, I saw a lot of parallels to "Postmodern Blackness". Hooks recognizes the validity of personal experience while also suggesting that postmodernism may be a way to disrupt the idea of an "authentic" black experience. One of my favorite quotes from the Marchessault was, "The death of the author carries no political affectivity for feminist struggles precisely because it supports our violent exclusion from the public sphere" (89). Both writers are concerned with the exclusion of marginalized people from culture and the act of cultural production, and how they might begin to enter that discourse.
I know I should have asked this before, but it's been a really busy week and I *thought* I had the right readings. Like atleast one other person, I printed out the Marchessault and the Manovich becuause they were the only readings posted that we hadn't already done. It occured to me belatedly that "Forms" seemed a little out of place. So I consulted the syllabus and upon discovering that we were supposed to have read bell hooks I started looking frantically for it. But I can't find it. Am I an idiot? Am I completely overlooking something painfully obvious? If anyone can help me, PLEASE DO!!!!
PS: have you figured out that that name wasn't an idle choice? ;)
Although the bit about Fruedian psychoanalysis and the relation of authorship and imagination to the Oedipal drive probably got me the most riled up out of anything in the Marchessault reading, I feel that anything I would try to say about it would only come out as angry Frued-bashing babel, which, while satisfying, is not very productive.
Instead I will turn my attention to a passage that interested (rather than angered) me. It has long been my primary critique of second-wave feminism that it has a tendency to essentialize and polarize along the lines the two-gender system as badly as the patriarchal establishment does. Granted for different purposes and with different intents, but, as we discussed in relation to the Barthes, purpose and intent are only important to the degree that they are succesfully communicated. Therefore, despite all intents toward empowerment through solidarity, I continue to take issue with the way in which many second-wave feminists seem to presuppose a two-gender system in which all individuals identify wholly and completely with one or the other category and who's self-catagorization will inherently link up with their social catagorization.
But back to the reading....
Why is it that the dead author is a woman if the argument relies on the fact that women have been marginalized and oppressed? Shouldn't the dead author then be argued to be anyone other than the white, male author?
I mean Just as it was hard for women to get recognition as credible writters, I think that other minority groups faced difficulties as well. Why are they still alive?
So here's something kind of crazy: yesterday, September 11, I went to the New York Times web site to find that the most e-mailed story of the day is an article about the ruckus caused by the new changes made last week to the Facebook. Today that story is gone (free access to the article may've expired), but in its place in the number one spot is "Harvard Ends Early Admission". Also included in the top 25 are "Outsourcing Homework: At $9.95 a Page, You Expected Poetry?", and "College Life 101: Dramatically Stark Orientation".
I know it's the beginning of the semester so there's probably more focus than usual on college life, but really, what gives? I mean, this is the New York Times!
The article was like searching for a needle in a haystack for something I could piece into a cohesive thought. Not sure I'm really there yet, but here is what's going through my mind so far: Rita Felski says that it is imperitive that the female work of art not be divorced from its context of reception and neither can the author be separated from the reader. This is in direct opposition to the idea that there is power in such a separation for the authors mentioned by Barthe, (Balzac, Malarme, Proust). It is so true that only those who have power can afford to play at not having it. I do think that women are second in power to the male dominated society but the language used throughout this article is overly strong in regards to the current reception of women as authors.
I'm not sure if its me being distracted, me being incompetent, or the fact that it is approaching 1 am, but am I the only one out there who doesn't have a freaking clue what Marchessault is talking about? I just read and reread pretty much every sentence in that essay and I haven't the faintest clue what ol' Janine's argument is. Example number one: "If, in the post-structuralist scheme, an author is man in his purest expression, then the dead author is indeed a woman - a 'fluid' phantom, 'unfixed' and 'multiply' existing always in the elsewhere." I mean honsetly? Is there anyone that could explain this sentence to me in plain English? Another little gem of a quote from an earlier passage suggests that perhaps "the ideological stench of the author might indeed be greater in death than life." Is there some meaning for stench in the dictionary that I am not seeing, or am I just completely missing the point of this article?
Being a media studies-psychology dual major is difficult. In one major i am forced to learn the intricacies of freudean theory; in my other major, i am forced to laugh at practically anything he ever said. Anyways...
After reading Marchessault's thoughts regarding the gender (not sex, gender is cultural, or?) of the dead author The Acadamy has been presented with, i must say i am intrigued. Her detective work in the bathroom stall was logical. A man would not sneak into a woman's stall simply to theorize on the gender of The Dead Author. But, is she saying that the dead author is a woman, or that the dead author is a genderswapping zombie?
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 divide-- negatively."
I haven't made it through all of the Lev Manovich reading yet, but some parts of what I've read are pretty exciting (mostly because, I admit, they are relevant to things I'm thinking about for my thesis). I'm really interested in what he's got to say about the narrative v. database argument, and the position new media is in to play on both teams. And the projects he describes on page 226 sound incredible...
Manovich (so far) has described the narrative & database sythesis available to new media developers as also being available to cinema and video games. He may touch on other subjects further on in the article, but I'm guessing because of some of his previous statements that he's planning on leaving literature out for good. I'm not sure, though, I think differently: what about Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities? In fact, I think that text is a great example of a synthesis between narrative and database-- Marco Polo presents descriptions of cities in a loose order to Kublai Kahn, and every 5-15 cities or so the descriptions are interrupted by short conversations between Marco Polo & Kublai Kahn which again relate only loosely & sometimes not at all to the descriptive database of cities. In addition, each city is categorized as cities & memory, cities & signs, cities & desire, thin cities, cities & eyes, etc.