Be-coming subjects: reclaiming a politics of location as radical political rhetoric

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2004-01-01
Authors
Fox, Catherine
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Altmetrics
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Research Projects
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English
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Abstract

In this dissertation I theorize and analyze the rhetorical deployment of a "politics of location" within the context of poststructural theories of discourse, subjectivity, and agency. In her book, Blood Bread and Poetry, Adrienne Rich coins the phrase "a politics of location," which marks an effort to move away from a hegemonic Western feminism that universalizes all women's experiences and constructs a normative (and hence limiting and exclusionary) subject of feminism. Rich forwards a politics of location as a radical materialist political stance that grounds feminist theory in accountability for the situatedness of knowledge production. I extend Rich's phrase to theorize how radical, lesbian feminists have used a politics of location as a signifying practice to construct alternative subjectivities and assert discursive agency.;More specifically, in this project I historicize and contextualize a politics of location as it developed within lesbian feminist interchanges during the 1980s and early 90s. This is a significant historical juncture for two reasons. First, the universal concept of "woman" came under radical critique by third-space feminists. Second, feminist publishing houses began to proliferate as a counter-public context for the dissemination of new voices and knowledges, thus allowing for the invention of new discursive strategies within feminist conversations. After historicizing a politics of location, I trace its development as a rhetorical strategy deployed specifically within interchanges between radical, lesbian feminists. Additionally, I use a Foucauldian theory of discursive formations to show how this rhetorical strategy interrupts the normative subject of the rhetorical tradition. Finally, I show how a politics of location contributes to the growing field of research on feminist rhetorical theory.

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English, Rhetoric and professional communication
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