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‘Simone and I’: Beyond Female Sympathy in Feminist Biography
The English Faculty, University of Oxford.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9649-0873
2009 (English)In: “Biographies on the Move,”: Points of Exit: (Un)conventional Representations of Age, Parenting, and Sexuality, 2009Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the feminist potential of two materialist feminist/poststructuralist biographies of Simone de Beauvoir. Liberal and radical feminist critics, including the American literary critic Carolyn G. Heilbrun, have argued for a departure from traditional plots in biography. Heilbrun suggests that feminist biographers must seek to express women’s shared, authentic experiences. That is, they must take a “sympathetic” rather than objective stance towards their subject. In this sense, women’s biography will function both as a critique of patriarchal society and point to women’s possibilities through the individual example. Yet, postmodern feminist critics, such as historian Joan Wallace Scott, has voiced suspicion against the essentialism that she argues informs the notion of the sympathetic biographer, as well as the liberal humanism that underlies the very ideas of a coherent and rational (female) subject. The two biographers presented in this paper offer a viable alternative to this stalemate situation. Although they depart from the traditional realist biographical form, they still aim to fulfill the function of feminist biography, as it has been defined by Heilbrun. The result is a non-chronological, non-narrative biography, in which the biographer simultaneously stresses the particularity and universality of the subject. The pitfalls of this approach are also discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
Keyword [en]
biography, feminism, female sympathy
National Category
Humanities and the Arts Didactics
Research subject
English, Specialization in Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-66776OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-66776DiVA: diva2:1160681
Conference
Points of Exit: (Un)conventional Representations of Age, Parenting, and Sexuality, Center for Gender and Diversity, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, 29-30 March, 2009.
Available from: 2017-11-28 Created: 2017-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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