Women's Experimental Writing : Negative Aesthetics and Feminist Critique
Author(s): Ellen E. Berry
Women's Experimental Writing considers six contemporary authors who use experimental methods and negative modes of critique in their fiction and feminism. The authors covered are Valerie Solanas, Kathy Acker, Theresa Cha, Chantel Chawaf, Jeanette Winterson, and Lynda Barry.
These writers all share a commitment to combining extreme content with formally radical techniques in order to enact varieties of gender, sex, race, class and nation-based experience that, they suggest, may only be “represented” accurately through the experimental unmaking of dominant structures of rationality. Ellen Berry extends the anti-social negative critique predominant in queer studies by offering an alternative archive of feminist negative literary practices and explores the consequences of joining an anti-social critique with radical innovations in literary and cultural forms. She argues that the radical aesthetic practices the authors employ are central to the emergence of contemporary Western feminisms and in doing so rectifies a critical neglect of contemporary experimental writing by women, especially in politicized forms, within the still-emerging postmodern canon.
“Anyone interested in the internal variety of experimental writing by women will find Berry’s book essential: the distinctions she establishes could become cornerstones for finer-grained future investigations of overall categories and individual texts.” - Modern Philology
“[Berry’s] book analyzes a myriad of diverse writers and their prose texts as they engage negative aesthetics for overtly political, dramatically feminist purposes in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France … As we learn in this book, the “negative” is not a negative term at all—certainly not for feminists or anyone who questions the false social ideologies of heterogeneity, its discourses, and its discontents. The “negative” is an aesthetic in that it is both reality and our survival strategy. It eschews political correctness, and it is a politically potent, intellectually demanding act.” – Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature