Gender Studies | Problems in Gender Studies: Rewriting Gender, Rewriting Sexuality
G402 | 17386 | Johnson, C


Feminist theorists have long argued that the world looks very
different when viewed from a womanís standpoint.  The same could
arguably be said with regard to the standpoints of those who occupy
other historically minoritized subject positions as well:  people of
color, sexual minorities, members of the laboring classes,
subalterns; the list could go on, probably forever, especially given
the fact that vast numbers of people occupy some or all of these
positions (and more) simultaneously.  While this insight has been
enormously generative, its applicability has been limited somewhat
by the simple fact that human beings have yet to devise a technology
which allows people to experience a standpoint or perspective other
than their own.  In other words, we still donít have a particularly
effective way to get inside one anotherís heads.  There is one
possible exception to this technological blockage, however, and that
is the novel.  And indeed, authors have been exploiting the novelís
generic flexibility in recent years precisely for the purpose of
allowing readers to see things from a decidedly different point
view. In this course, students will consider rewriting as a both a
critical and political practice.  Specifically, they will survey a
range of recent retellings of familiar and in many cases ďclassicĒ
stories told from the perspective of characters who were only
marginal (or marginalized) in the original versions. In some
instances, we will read the original works as wellópartly for the
purpose of considering how gender and sexuality operate in that
context (which is itself instructive) but also for the purpose of
providing a necessary point of critical reference.  Readings may
include Anita Diamantís The Red Tent; Sena Jeter Naslundís Ahabís
Wife: or, the Stargazer, a rewriting of Melvilleís Moby Dick; Alice
Randallís The Wind Done Gone, a rewriting of Margaret Mitchellís
melodramatically orgiastic epic Gone With the Wind; Wicked: The Life
and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory McGuireís
rewriting of L. Frank Baumís The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (and now a
major Broadway musical); and Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhysí rewriting
of Charlotte BrontŽís Jane Eyre.