Monique Wittig The Straight Mind And Other Essays About Life

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The Straight Mind and Other Essays

Monique Wittig, Author Beacon Press (MA) $24.95 (110p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7916-4
Wittig ( The Lesbian Body ) is a key figure in French feminism, perhaps the foremost theorist of a profoundly radical lesbianism. Half of the nine essays in this brief collection deal directly with the politics of gender, a battlefield on which Wittig has staked out a nearly unique position: ``There is no sex. There is but sex that is oppressed and sex that oppresses.'' Drawing on de Beauvoir, Wittig strenuously resists both biological determinism and its twin, essentialism, arguing that sex itself is a social, ergo ideological, construct and that man and woman are not eternal categories. For women, she concludes, lesbianism is the logical escape from patriarchal domination. Wittig's prose is methodical and aggressive, combative and dense. The book's first half, containing the political essays, is a bit repetitive. The author is at her most elegant in the literary essays, which explicate the complex relationship between literary form and ideology. As a result, these ostensibly literary essays offer the most cogent statement of her political beliefs and, consequently, the most satisfying reading. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
AuthorMonique Wittig
Original titleThe Straight Mind and Other Essays
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
PublisherBeacon Press

Publication date

1992
Media typePrint

The Straight Mind and Other Essays is a (1992) collection of essays by Monique Wittig.

It was translated into French as La Pensée straight in 2001.[1]

Summary[edit]

In April 1979 Wittig delivered her essay, "The Straight Mind", as the morning keynote address at Barnard College's event, "The Scholar and the Feminist Conference, The Future of Difference".[2] The essay appeared in French in Question Feministe, where the editorial collective, which included Wittig, splintered over "the lesbian question" leading to a dissolution of the collective and end to the publication.[3] It also appeared in English in Feminist Issues.[4]

"One Is Not Born a Woman," delivered in September 1979 at the "30th Anniversary Conference of the Second Sex" held at New York University, takes up the outcomes of Simone de Beauvoir's feminist political visions for lesbians.[5] Wittig writes, "Lesbians are not women", under the assumption that the term "woman" is defined by men.[6] Moreover, she compares lesbians to fugitive slaves.[7]

"The Trojan Horse," explains her theory of literature as a "war machine",[8] echoing Gilles Deleuze.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^Brad Epps and Jonathan Katz, 'Monique Wittig's Materialist Utopia and Radical Critique', Monique Wittig: At the Crossroads of Criticism, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue, Duke University Press, 2007, page 424
  2. ^The Scholar and The Feminist Online http://sfonline.barnard.edu/sfxxx/sf06.htm, lois a. west, “French Feminist Theorists & Psychoanalytic Theory,” Off Our Backs 9, no. 7 (July 1, 1979): 4–23, doi:10.2307/25773119.
  3. ^Shaktini, Namascar, ed. On Monique Wittig: Theoretical, Political, And Literary Essays (University of Illinois Press, 2005). ISBN 9780252029844. page 9.
  4. ^"The Straight Mind.' Feminist Issues 1. no. 1 (Summer 1980): 108-111.
  5. ^Brad Epps and Jonathan Katz, 'Monique Wittig's Materialist Utopia and Radical Critique', Monique Wittig: At the Crossroads of Criticism, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue, Duke University Press, 2007, page 438
  6. ^Brad Epps and Jonathan Katz, 'Monique Wittig's Materialist Utopia and Radical Critique', Monique Wittig: At the Crossroads of Criticism, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue, Duke University Press, 2007, page 425
  7. ^Monique Wittig, 67, Feminist Writer, Dies, by Douglas Martin, January 12, 2003, New York Times
  8. ^Brad Epps and Jonathan Katz, 'Monique Wittig's Materialist Utopia and Radical Critique', Monique Wittig: At the Crossroads of Criticism, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue, Duke University Press, 2007, page 442
  9. ^Alice Jardine, 'Thinking Wittig's Differences; "Or, Failing That, Invent"', Monique Wittig: At the Crossroads of Criticism, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue, Duke University Press, 2007, page 459

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