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This item is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

Sarah Maguire (PNR 51) exaggerates the exclusion of feminist concerns from PNR. The PNR 48 Bibliography quotes Julia Kristeva on motherhood and jouissance, cites, in the Screen entry, Laura Mulvey's 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema', notes the highlighting of 'the importance of sexual difference in the constitutive discourses of society and its subjects' in The Subject of Semiotics by Kaja Silverman (an Associate Professor of Film and Women's Studies) and even includes K. K. Ruthven's Feminist Literary Studies: an introduction - though since K. K. Ruthven is male, this doubtless compounds my felony.

Sarah Maguire protests that all the contributors to PNR 48 ignored feminism. But those contributors included a number of prominent new orthodox voices. Could it be that feminism, in its many varieties, belongs with those 'alternative approaches' that the new orthodoxy marginalizes, even as it appropriates some of its energies to support its aggressive posturings? PNR 48's editorial in fact quoted a feminist contributor to the 1983 Literature Teaching Politics journal on the use of supposedly progressive theory as a stick to beat women with. It is not until recently that the 'New Accents' series has published any books specifically devoted to feminism; the 'Re-Reading Literature' series has, so far, included only one book by a woman, and only one about a woman writer; and that influential orthodox journal, Literature and History, expresses concern, in its 10th anniversary issue, about its 'meagre number of articles by women, and of articles about women writers'.

In contrast, PNR has consistently published poetry by women, and essays, reviews, and correspondence by and about women - though not all women, of course, are feminists. We have always been open to work of quality, and to dialogue: perhaps some feminists have preferred the moral luxuries of righteous indignation (see letters in PNR 35) or of silence. But our pages have not been silent. For example, PNR 35 carried the transcript of the Simone de Beauvoir film, and PNR 43 reviewed de Beauvoir's 1972-78 interviews with Alice Schwarzer and said that these 'offer some lively insights into debates within contemporary feminism'. My PNR 41 review of Formations of Pleasure and On Gender and Writing affirmed: 'It is indeed in the area of the "construction of femaleness" that some of the most interesting theoretical work in feminism, as well as some of its most immediate practical struggles (for example, against pornography), seem to be taking place.' And my essay on Q. D. Leavis in PNR 38 focused on her criticisms of feminism, which remain relevant today - for instance, her rebuke to 'the feminine self-consciousness that has to find an outlet in some form of assertion or demand'.
Nicolas Tredell

This item is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

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