chapter  3
Poststructuralist Feminisms Part 1: Accommodating Matter: Drucilla Cornell
Pages 18

In the previous chapter we saw that the matter of the body is often referred to as a “text” within postmodern and poststructural criticism.1 As a conse­ quence, the intricacies o f textual production become sites o f political engagement, sites where the limitations of corporeal possibility are inter­ preted, contested, and renegotiated. Yet, the perceived efficacy of these interpretive strategies that engage the body of the text as the text of the body is predicated upon a quite complex understanding of “text” and “language.” In the introduction to Feminists Theorize the Political, Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott elaborate this assumption, noting that the provocative implications that inform a poststructural understanding of language are seldom under­ stood. Their concern is that “ [t]he emphasis of poststructuralist positions on language or signifying practices is often taken to be an emphasis on written documents, particular utterances, or other empirically restrictive ‘examples’ of language (1992: xv). Acknowledging the rancor that this confusion can generate, they ask, “How are language, signification and discourse misread, and what are the political consequences of this misreading?” (1992: xv). For Butler and Scott, who encourage “poststructuralist refigurations of ‘the material’” (1992: xvi), the need to pay particular attention to the redeploy­ ment of words such as “language” and “text” is crucial to this enterprise.