chapter  6
31 Pages

Pandora’s box: subjectivity, class and sexuality in socialist feminist criticism

WithCora Kaplan

Cora Kaplan points to a split in feminist criticism, between liberal humanists, who take psychosexual experience as more meaningful for women than social oppression, and socialist feminists, who foreground social and economic elements in texts and view fantasy and desire as anarchic and regressive. While liberal humanists fail to interrogate the idea of a unified female subject as ideology, she says, socialist feminists tend to stigmatize the literary representation of feeling as bourgeois. Exploring the origins of this split in Rousseau and Wollstonecraft, Kaplan argues for a criticism which can come to grips with the relationship between female subjectivity and class identity-which deals with the unconscious processes of subjective identity as, at the same time, structures through which class is lived and understood.