Okay. So. I was rerereading Blue of Noon on the treadmill, I guess the book that started it all in terms of my interests in the male hysteric and what that means for the representations of the female characters in Bataille's novel (the dirty whore Dirty, the dirty virgin Lazare, the poor slave/fuckbuddy Xenie) and so I'm rereading Hal Foster's work on Surrealism, Compulsive Beauty, in which he's kind of sort of trying in a way to rescue Surrealism from charges of misogyny, and really examining the link between psychoanalysis and Surrealism, this is a book I first bought in a seminar on Surrealism at the U of C, a seminar in which I childishly put exclamation points in the margins of Breton's Mad Love and Nadja and wrote Misogyny! and felt this deep deep desire to throw Nadja across the room, and then this even deeper desire to write from the point of view of Nadja, or read a novel from the point of view of Nadja, all this I could not articulate, and now my ideas are hopefully more complex about representations of THE WOMAN in male modernism, Foster is trying to I believe use Freud's evolution of the death drive that posited masochism as more central to sadism to state that representations of the girl in Surrealism that seem well cruel and sadistic like Bellmer's poupees are actually the artist working through complicated ideas of desire and mastery and identification, which you could link to Bataille's Blue of Noon as well, this idea that the main male anti-hero character identifies with hysteria and maybe the masochist (in terms of his relationship with Dirty, the character based on Laure) but I think it's as much of a cop-out to say it's all misogynistic as to say, well all these male modernists identified with the hysteric, the masochist, the feminine, but were creeped out by it and working out their issues.
Anyway. So I'm thinking of this, and thinking about how that maybe just answers this question of male subjectivity - the male artist/Author and their compulsions - but doesn't really address the effect of a female readership. And all I can really come up with in terms of feminist literary criticism that does that is Gilbert/Gubar's Madwoman in the Attic, which looks at the effect on Victorian women writers of the stereotypical representations of women in their era, mostly fairytales (you're either good pure Snow White or the evil Queen). And then I go right to film theory, bell hooks on the "oppositional gaze" (her urging black female spectators to combat stereotypical representations) or old-school Laura Mulvey on like voyeurism and objecthood and "to-be-lookedatness."
Now I never studied literature or English really at any sort of coherent collegiate level - but am I wrong about this? Does literature have a feminist character theory or readership theory like feminist film criticism has a really very evolved spectatorship theory?Or is that just what feminist literary criticism is? A sort of readership theory? Like Cixous writes about Molly Bloom or Kristeva does too - but they don't really think about Molly Bloom do they? Or all the molly blooms? Film theory says it's okay I think to take a text and apply it to your own experience - while viewing, after viewing - most importantly your desire. This seems to me to be seen as taboo/wrong/etc. to talk about how a book affected your experience or made you feel (i.e. reading like Emma Bovary i.e. reading like a girl). Is that true? Is there work on an emotions or identification while reading that I can order up and wildly scan?The only thing I can think of is actually scholarship dealing with romance novels, notions of identification and community and desire for witness/love while reading. Hmmm. Hmmm.
This is not a blog post. It is a cry in the dark.