Unsettled Subjects

Restoring Feminist Politics to Poststructuralist Critique

Unsettled Subjects

Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: Published: September 1997

Author: Susan Lurie

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

During the 1980s much of the work of feminist theory aimed to fully account for issues of class, race, and sexuality that previously had been overlooked. Susan Lurie argues that this work tended to privilege questions of race and class at the expense of gender, and frequently, if inadvertently, left patriarchal power unquestioned. Developing a feminist model that keeps multiple political forces in view, Lurie returns to three literary feminists from earlier parts of the century: Ellen Glasgow, Zora Neale Hurston, and Elizabeth Bishop. As Lurie argues, each of these women shows that both resistance to male domination and alliances between different oppositional politics rely on recognizing how power regulates a subject’s multiple beliefs.
In her analysis, Lurie traces each author’s strategies for revealing and challenging the ways that patriarchal gender ideology profits from what is always plural and contested female subjectivity. Only such an inquiry, Lurie demonstrates, can explain the impasses that have steered poststructuralist feminism away from gender as a category of analysis and can point toward the models necessary for a more complete feminist critique of patriarchal power.


“Lurie’s provocative book examines the impasses that have developed in feminist theory during the past twenty years and aims to restore a critique of patriarchal power to poststructuralist feminism. . . . Lurie’s book makes compelling reading and remains true to its title in shaking up previous analyses of its subjects with fascinating arguments that unsettle the subject of poststructuralist feminism itself.” — Sophia Taylor , OverHere

Unsettled Subjects will establish Susan Lurie as a central figure within feminist and postcolonialist theory as she intervenes courageously within perhaps the most heated and long-lasting of feminist debates.” — Kaja Silverman, University of California, Berkeley

“The critical project of Unsettled Subjects is both necessary and daring. It articulates the postmodern impasse for white feminism that deconstruction’s destabilizing of the category ‘woman’ has generated and, through very thorough readings of modern American women writers, demonstrates how this impasse may be overcome.” — Lora Romero, Stanford University


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Susan Lurie is Associate Professor of English at Rice University.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1999-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2003-6
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