Queering the Lesbian Text. Monique Wittig, Dacia Maraini, and Carole Maso.
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Building on the link between Lesbian Studies and Queer Studies, this thesis examines the construction of lesbian subjectivities in three contemporary literary works, in particular Monique Wittig’s The Lesbian Body (1975 ), Dacia Maraini’s Lettere a Marina (1981), and Carole Maso’s Aureole: An Erotic Sequence (1996). Challenging the dominant theoretical paradigms of their periods, these texts share a sensibility that retains several elements of critique that have become essential in queer studies —whose official birth only came in the 1990s,— such as the anti-essentialist approach to subjectivity, the emphasis on resistance enacted by means of discursive practices, as well as the ideas on the proliferation of sexual possibilities. Focusing in each chapter on a different facet of lesbian subjectivity, i.e. on a different way in which ‘lesbian’ can be queered, this thesis studies the textual manifestations of these authors’ queer sensibilities, the kinds of lesbian bodies, identities, and desires that these texts contribute to producing, as well as the kinds of political responses and resistances these textual spaces enable. Overall, this thesis proposes that, in these texts, lesbianism ceases to be a subjectivity with predictable contents or to constitute a total political and self-identification. However, it figures no less central for that shift. It remains a position from which to speak, but it ceases to be the exclusive and continuous ground of identity or politics. Indeed, it works to unsettle rather than to consolidate the boundaries around the subject, not to dissolve them altogether but to open them to the fluidities and heterogeneities that make their renegotiation possible. As a result, the queer lesbian becomes not only a valid theoretical tool in the literary analysis, by expanding the discourses on lesbianism and opening up new critical terrains of analysis, but also a fruitful positioning from which to continue working for equality in our contemporary society.