Rad se bavi istraživanjem statusa avangardne i modernističke književnosti u feminističkoj književnoj teoriji. Teorijsku raspravu o ovom pitanju razvijamo u četirima poglavljima rada u kojima razmatramo različite, međusobno povezane manifestacije odnosa feminističke teorije s književnošću modernizma i avangarde. U prvom poglavlju pokazujemo kako rani feministički pristupi književnosti tretiraju modernističke književne tekstove te ističemo njihove teorijske i metodološke pretpostavke koje ovi tekstovi dovode u pitanje: pojam reprezentacije, koncepciju odnosa fikcije i zbilje te koncept autorstva. Drugo poglavlje nastavljamo rekonstrukcijom feminističke rasprave o teorijama čije se nasljedovanje modernizma i avangarde očituje ne samo u koncepciji književnosti već i u teorijskim strategijama i formalnim postupcima, s naglaskom na opusu francuske teoretičarke Hélène Cixous i njezinoj recepciji koji se u tom smislu ističu kao egzemplarni. Nadovezujući se na uvide ovog poglavlja, u sljedećem dijelu rada donosimo analizu modernističke i avangardne književnosti kao historijskog, estetskog i političkog elementa genealogije feminističkih koncepcija književnih revolucija, usredotočujući se na rane faze opusa Hélène Cixous i Julije Kristeve. Iz perspektive njihova odnosa prema zajedničkim prethodnicima – Bretonu, Joyceu, Batailleu i Bahtinu – raspravu pozicioniramo s jedne strane prema feminističkoj teoriji, a s druge strane prema suvremenim teorijama avangarde. U posljednjem poglavlju ukazujemo na reperkusije dosadašnje rasprave za domaću znanost o književnosti, a napose recepciju naših suvremenih spisateljica čiji su opusi formirani pod utjecajem modernizma i avangarde, te za suvremene tendencije u feminističkoj teoriji i širem kontekstu humanistike i društvenih znanosti.
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This dissertation addresses the status of avant-garde and modernist literature in feminist literary theory and the influence of avant-garde and modernist literature on feminist conceptualisations of literary revolutions. In four main chapters, we explore various interrelated aspects of this relationship and reconstruct the elements in which feminist encounters with avant-garde and modernist literature have shaped discussions and conceptualisations of literature since the emergence of feminist criticism in the late 1960s. The first chapter, entitled The Impossible Contradictions of Feminist Literary Theory, opens the discussion with an overview of the major changes in the disciplinary field of contemporary feminist theory from the mid-1980s onwards, and considers the status of modernist literature in the most influential studies of feminist literary criticism that formed the early disciplinary field. To introduce the question of literature in contemporary feminist theory, we highlight the differences between the first integral introduction to feminist literary theory published by Toril Moi in 1985 (Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory) and the author’s more recent essay, “I Am Not a Woman Writer”. About Women, Literature and Feminist Theory Today (2008), that takes note of the apparent marginalisation of literature in contemporary feminist theory. Following the author’s arguments, we open the question of feminist dissent about literature with an analysis of early feminist criticism developed in the context of American literary criticism: Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics(1970), Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own. British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing (1977), and Sandra M. Gilbert’s and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979). We focus on the treatment of modernist literary texts, taking the readings of Virginia Woolf’s novels as exemplary for the feminist dissent mentioned above. In doing so, we emphasise the problematic theoretical and methodological assumptions of these readings: especially the concept of representation, the relationship between fiction and reality, and the conceptualisation of the author and authorship. The privileged position of realism in early American feminist criticism is confronted with critical approaches to realist literature and the status of the author and authorship in literary studies and criticism. In this sense, we follow the contributions of Shoshana Felman (Women and Madness: The Critical Phallacy, 1975) and Roland Barthes (S/Z, 1970) published in the formative decades of feminist criticism. Drawing on these approaches to a literary text, we question the early feminist treatment of 19th -century novels and its impact on feminist readings of modernist and contemporary literature. After questioning the problem of influential feminist readings of (modernist) literature, in the next chapter entitled That dangerous metaphor: politics of literature, politics of theory, we reconstruct the feminist reception of theorists who develop their concept of literature and their writing strategies under the influence of modernist and avant-garde literature. We take the work of the French theorist Hélène Cixous and the reception of her work as exemplary in this context. The problem of the feminist reception of French theory, including Cixous, is opened with a discussion of the metaphorical and metonymic strategies recognised in reflection on the categories of feminist theory. On the one hand, we note the privileged position of metonymy in the feminist perspective vis-à-vis the general theoretical interest in metaphor as a means of politicising feminist categories. We further problematise the opposition between metaphor and metonymy as one of the dominant models of reading and reflection on the relations and differences between American criticism and French theory. The thesis on the metaphorical/metonymic dichotomy is challenged here with theoretical arguments about the critical potentials of metaphorization of terms such as women and feminine to open up the future possibilities of sexual difference (as Cornell, 1999) and the deconstruction of the opposition itself (Kamuf 1990, 1995). This question is followed by an insight into the feminist discussions on hysteria following the polemic between Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément in the third part of La jeune neé (1975). By tracing this discussion to Freud’s Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905), we consider the complex relations between the conception of hysteria, literature and theory in this foregrounding polemic and its reception. The dissent on hysteria, literature and theory is followed by a reconstruction of the readings of Cixous’ work in the context of deconstruction. From the perspective of the deconstructive readings of her texts offered by Jacques Derrida (2002, 2004) and Peggy Kamuf (1995), the political potential of reference without a referent at work in Cixous’ texts is seen as a site of resistance to the dominance of thematic criticism in their reception. Following the reconstructed discussion, in the next chapter entitled The Avant-Garde in Feminist Theory, we analyse the influence of modernist and avant-garde literature on feminist conceptualisations of literary revolutions in the second half of the 20th century and the contribution of the feminist perspective to the general history and theory of the avant-garde. Our analysis is situated in the field of feminist theory on the one hand and contemporary theories of the avant-garde on the other, and attempts to overcome several disciplinary barriers: the relative marginalisation of the avant-garde in feminist (literary) theory, the notion of masculinity in avant-garde movements, and the thematic, content-oriented readings of French theories developed under the influence of the avant-garde and modernism. Following recent discussions on European modernist and avant-garde literature, we emphasise the importance of the perspective of feminist theories developed in the 1960s and 1970s among the possible sources that revalue these literary movements in contemporary literary theory. Continuing this chapter, we focus on the most influential feminist theoretical appropriations of modernism and avant-garde – the conception of écriture féminine by Hélène Cixous and the revolution in poetic language by Julia Kristeva. We follow the former contributions to the literary genealogy of their theories and focus on their conceptions of the subject in avant-garde writing practises. To address this question consistently, we analyse the relations of their theories to their common precursors, André Breton, James Joyce, Georges Bataille and Mihail Bakhtin. In the sub-chapter devoted to Cixous, we emphasise the influence of Surrealism on her concept of writing and the readings of James Joyce that precede her famous manifesto Le rire de la Méduse (1975). In analysing these readings, we discuss Cixous’ relationship to Bakhtin’s theory of the novel and Bataille’s notion of expenditure. We further consider the relations between Kristeva’s concept of revolution in poetic language and Russian Formalism and Futurism, and discuss her readings of Surrealism, Joyce, Bataille and Bakhtin. Based on these readings, we point out a specific paradox between Kristeva’s critique of the category of the subject and its centrality in her theory of poetic language. What was highlighted in the former analysis as the difference between the feminine and masculine subject of avant-garde practise becomes, from the perspective of these relations, a specific tension between the possibility of artistic depersonalisation in Cixous and the central position of the subject (in process) in Kristeva’s theory. However, both theories derive the critique of the category from modernist and avant-garde literature, which invalidates a simplistic relationship between the subject of artistic practise and the authorial instance, and therefore offer a critical starting point that could be articulated not only in relation to the readings of modernist and avant-garde literature. Following the avant-garde and modernist literature, Cixous and Kristeva develop a conceptualization of the subversive potential of literature in general, which is particularly directed against the processes of commodification in the contemporary literary field. In the final chapter of the dissertation, entitled The Text in Contexts, we emphasise the implications of our discussion in specific local and global contexts. In the first part of this chapter, we consider the reverberations of 20th -century literary theory in the context of the Yugoslav and Croatian literary field from the 1980s onwards. We offer a critical analysis of the reception of Cixous and Kristeva, which led to the use of a homemade version of women’s writing in critical and historical approaches to women writers who appeared on the Yugoslav literary scene in the second half of the 20th century. Using the reception of two women writers – Irena Vrkljan and Dubravka Ugrešić – as examples, we show how the term undercuts both the influences of the avant-garde and modernism and the importance of the Yugoslav literary field in the formation of their poetics. In the radically changed context of post-war Yugoslav countries which has profoundly altered the way subversive literary women’s voices are treated, we argue that a return to the theoretical geneses of feminist literary theory could be an important corrective to the current state of affairs. Following this statement, we return in the second part of this chapter to the beginning of our discussion of the marginalisation of literature in the field of contemporary feminist theory. Starting from the argument of Culler’s approach to the literary in theory, we consider the crucial relations between the earlier conceptions of literary revolutions such as those of Cixous and Kristeva and the contemporary feminist interest in gender performativity formed by Butler’s influential Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). Therefore, the contribution of the avant-garde to feminist theory is analysed on four interrelated levels: as a problem that challenged the theoretical and methodological assumptions of feminist approaches to literature; as an influence on the writing strategies of feminist theorists that provoked resistance and misunderstanding in the feminist disciplinary field; as a historical, aesthetic and political genealogy of feminist concepts of the literary revolution; and as a privileged site of reflection on theoretical, methodological, political and ethical aspects of contemporary feminist theory.