Critical Commentary

Thoughts on Joy Harjo’s ‘Dangerous Woman’: Resistance, Power and Survival

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo

‘I Am a Dangerous Woman’[1] was published in 1979 in Harjo’s second collection of poetry What Moon Drove Me To This? and like much of Harjo’s poetry, in this collection and beyond, it explores cultural and feminist concerns. Continue reading

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Critical Commentary

Survivance and Storytelling: Erdrich’s Tracks and Welch’s Winter in the Blood

When the victims talk back, they stop being victims.

Gerald Vizenor

Gerald Vizenor

For centuries, in cartoons, stories, songs and paintings, Native Americans have been culturally invented and represented from the outside. These invented narratives of decimation and victimry are described by Gerald Vizenor as ‘simulations of dominance’.[1] By moving away from the sentimentality that had characterised earlier periods of Native American fiction, contemporary American Indian writers have transcended their role as victim in their quest for cultural survivance.[2] Vizenor describes these writers as ‘postindian warriors’, a term coined by Vizenor and used to describe Native American people who pursue creative acts of resistance and are concerned with creating authentic counter-narratives of survivance.[3] Continue reading

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Poetry

lovecrimes

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Poetry

flesh

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Critical Commentary

Gender Trouble in Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Bliss’

“. . . but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle danger, we pluck this flower, safety.” [1]

‘Bliss’ opens with the heroine – Bertha – being moved by an overwhelming, and misunderstood, feeling of anticipation, which is particularly characterised by her inability to give expression to it. Throughout much of the story she is unable to give full expression to her inner passions, whether out of fear or inability, ‘her discourse is tempered by social conditioning.’[2] When she is overcome by this intense feeling of bliss she asks whether there is ‘no way to express it without being ‘drunk and disorderly’’ and perceives civilisation as ‘idiotic’ because of its control over her own individual expression. When she desires to ‘get in touch’ with her husband, she becomes paralysed on the phone, ‘What had she to say? She’d nothing to say… She couldn’t absurdly cry: ‘Hasn’t it been a divine day!’ Again, in the nursery, the contrast between her internalised feelings and her verbalised response is striking, ‘You’re nice – you’re very nice! … I’m fond of you. I like you,’ she says to her baby daughter. Continue reading

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Critical Commentary

Representation, Expression and Censorship: Same-sex Desire in ‘Orlando’ and ‘The Well of Loneliness’

By 1928 – the year The Well of Loneliness[1] and Orlando[2] were published –there was an increasing social awareness of female same-sex desire in Britain.[3] Whilst The Well engages in religious and contemporaneous sexological discourse in order to legitimise and justify ‘sexual inversion’; Orlando adopts metaphorical language and narrative strategies to deconstruct and expose conventional heterosexuality, exploiting the possibility for same-sex desire.[4]

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Poetry

Lover

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