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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm Critically discuss the importance of representations of the body

body and explore how such a representation might contribute to the construction of the fictive self. You may refer to one or more characters in The Passion.

The relationships between feminist and postmodern theory have long been fractured and difficult to resolve, largely due to their differences in understanding representations of the body1. Whilst feminist theory wishes to reunite and redefine the body, especially the female body, in terms of wholeness, postmodern theory focuses on an idea of the body which has been fractured and shattered by coercive forces2. A critical component of postmodernism is Lyotards theory of the differend as the point between overlapping discourses3, which I believe is constructed within the fiction of Jeanette Winterson, particularly The Passion, as the body: the point where queer and feminist theory and postmodern theory overlap in their concerns, and which is in turn rendered incomprehensible to both. In The Passion this struggle between feminist and postmodern understandings of the body is epitomised in the character of Villanelle and her refusal to interact with the gendered binary of bodies. Winterson also uses the city of Venice as the site of the female body, allowing her social commentary on the nature and treatment of the female body, and to establish plot Laura Doan, Jeanette Wintersons Sexing the Postmodern, in The Lesbian Postmodern, ed. Laura Doan (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1994), 140. 2 Thomas Fahy, Fractured Bodies: Privileging the Incomplete in Jeanette Wintersons The Passion. Mosaic: Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 33, no. 3 (2000): 95. 3 Linda Hutcheon, Postmodernism, in The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake (New York, NY: Routledge, 2006), 120.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm movements within the city as an intimate, inter-body experience. The focus of the text itself are experiences which remind readers that, no matter the number of magical realist or fantastical influences, the text is grounded in movements such as passion and desire, which cannot be completely removed from the experience of having a body4. The use of representations of bodies both as a political or exploratory medium, as well as a narrative device allows Winterson to construct the selves of characters and places in terms of a continuous discourse between author, reader and theory.

Refusal to interact with the gendered binary is a critical part of both queer and feminist theory according to Judith Butler, who advocates actioning in line with that which subvert gender identity5. Winterson uses the construction of the character of Villanelle to perpetuate Butlers thesis though her androgyny and cross-dressing. By placing a marginalised female voice in the dominant male discourse, My feet were webbed./There was never a girl whose feet were webbed in the entire history of the boatmen,6 she disrupts that discourse and forces recognition of its dividing power to the fore. In this instance, it is important to note that the difference between the dominant and marginalised agents is physical and undeniable, linking it to the biological differences between

Susan Heckman, Feminism, in The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory ed. Simon Malpas and Paul Wake (New York, NY: Routledge, 2006), 92. 5 Ibid, 99. 6 Jeanette Winterson, The Passion (London: Vintage, 2001), 51. Line break symbol mine.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm genders and the use of biology to justify racism7. The use of a line break jars the reader and forces them to take note of the importance of this line, as well as mimics the fragmentation of the self which occurs when Villanelle is forced into the realm between two discourses and finds herself, and more importantly, her body, an unreadable differend8. This differendisation of herself and Wintersons use of it to invert the heteronormative power structures is shown by the change between active and passive voices in the quote above. Whilst Villanelle is in the masculine discourse, discussing a predicate of herself, she uses the active voice (My feet were webbed), but moves to the passive when discussing the situation within which she is situated. The meeting of the two voices is the line break, symbolic of the power gap between the dominant, presented above, and marginalised, displayed below, discourses. Through this, the use of construction of Villanelles self allows her to place herself in the dominant discourse, upsetting it by her ungendered body and actions.

Acting without reference to the gendered binary in order to subvert the self is most evident in Villanelles cross-dressing at the casino, which places her voluntarily within the marginalised discourse of a prostitute, adding an element of radical feminism9 to the construction of her self a writing back against degradation of women. The indefinable nature of her gender is something upon which she prides herself, and uses to Donald E Hall, Gender and Queer Theory, in The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory ed Simon Malpas and Paul Wake (New York, NY: Routledge, 2006), 102. 8 Hutcheon, 117. 9 Heckman, 93.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm construct her own concept of the self. She says, now and again I wear a codpiece to taunt him,10 using the usually binary sex organs in a fluid and artificial manner, allowing her to supersede the limitations of the gendered body. This fluidity allows Winterson to write back from the assumption that womens bodies are knowable sites which can be possessed and controlled11 and construct a self which is not bounded by such a narrative. The dangers of such a narrative and its compliment, which is that the privileged discourse has a right to know these sites, are brought to the fore in the physical danger and oppression which Villanelle faces working in a casino. This is most evident in her sexual assault by a customer who left a stain on [her] shirt and threw a coin by way of goodbye12. It is such an act of bodily degradation which highlights her position as differend silenced and invisible to the dominant discourses of capitalism (shown through the synecdoche of the coin) and masculinity13. This differendisation stems from Villanelles refusal to engage with the physical gender binary.

Despite being placed within the dominant discourse and thus having the power to upset it, Villanelles construction as a differend is something she is unable to move beyond, predicating her with her namesake, the poetic form of a villanelle, which has ever-repeating lines and clauses from which is it unable to move forward. Villanelle follows this form in her own Winterson, 56. Fahy, 95. 12 Winterson, 70. 13 Chloe Taylor Merleau, Postmodern Ethics and the Expression of Differends in the Novels of Jeanette Winterson, Journal of Modern Literature 26, no. 3/4 (2003): 102.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm confusion over the unreadability of her body14, and thus self. This confusion is shown through the repeated phrases within the text which exclusively focus on the impossibility of knowing and the fallibility of truth, such as between fear and sex, passion is15, Im telling you stories. Trust me16, and you play, you win. You play, you lose. You play.17 Whilst the wording of each changes slightly, they remain the same, repeated over and over in a desperate attempt to formulate meaning inside the dominant discourse of truth18, whilst being placed outside it in the realm of fiction. This metafictional theme mimics trauma writing, again engaging the text with the trauma of the differend19 and dangers to the body associated with living outside the power discourse.

The transference of the theoretical understanding of the human body as discussed and dissected in feminist, queer and postmodern theory onto a nonhuman figure poses an interesting question for the intersection of the three theories, that is to say: when removed from the physicality of the human body, do theories of the body still stand? In The Passion this is discussed in terms of the city of Venice, which is constructed as being as ungendered and androgynous as Villanelle. For as long as cities have

The unreadability of the body and the construction and deconstruction of literal bodies is discussed in Wintersons other fiction, particularly Written On The Body. 15 Winterson, 55, 62, 68, 76. 16 Ibid, 5, 13, 40, 69, 160. 17 Ibid, 66, 73, 133. 18 Christy L Burns, Fantastic Language: Jeanette Wintersons Recovery of the Postmodern Word, Contemporary Literature 37, no. 2 (1996): 281, 289. 19 Merleau, 84.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm existed they have been thought of in terms of the female body20. Following this, Winterson constructs the city, which is the setting of the second and fourth parts of the novel, as the meeting point of binary oppositions such as true/false, male/female and mind/body21 - that is to say, occupying the same space as the differend of Villanelle. Again, the narrative that the site of a womans body should be mappable and knowable is subverted in the construction of Venice as fluid and malleable. Villanelle tells a confused Henri: its a living city. Things change.22 The use of truncated sentences mirrors the fragmentation of the postmodern body, and yet it is Henri, male and therefore part of the empowered discourse, who is unable to find his way within the city. In his role as recounting narrator, one who has viewed and reviewed the text he is constructing, Henri notes that not even Bonaparte could rationalise Venice23, showing Henris movement away from the heteronormative position as he grows accustomed to the nature and shape of fluidly gendered bodies: that of Villanelle and that of Venice. The humanisation and physicalisation of the city acts in direct subversion of the dehumanising and fracturing norm of powered discourses in postmodern theory. This subversion highlights the importance of unity of the female body in line with feminist and queer theory as well as still-present role of fragmentation of such bodies through the impenetrability of the city to someone outside the marginalised discourse, in this case, young Henri. Judith Seaboyer, Second Death in Venice: Romanticism and the Compulsion to Repeat in Jeanette Wintersons The Passion, Contemporary Literature 38, no. 3 (1997): 485. 21 Ibid, 484. 22 Winterson, 113. 23 Ibid, 112.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm The reclaiming of not just the body but the experiences which are inherent in the act of possessing a body must be equally examined in a postfeminist and queer theory world24. Winterson engages in this through her thematic focus: the role of passions and desires in the construction of selves. It is impossible to isolate bodily function from the ownership of bodies and it is in this that Winterson constructs the selves of her characters as predications of their functions and desires. The blurb reads: Henri had a passion for Napoleon and Napoloen had a passion for chicken25, predicating the characters identities exclusively with their desires. When the bodily function of passion is removed from these characters, their selves fall into states of fragmentation and confusion: Henri loses faith with Napoleons empire building and abandons the army, the paragon of masculine power, in order to hide in Venice, already established as the realm of the marginalised female body. Through engagement with their bodily function the characters find engagement with themselves, and it is combinations of this which allow for the construction of selves. Such a reading is very receptive to queer theory, which focuses on not just the academic restructuring of bodies as feminist theory does, but with actions that lead directly to such a restructuring26.

The demand of postmodern theory that the subject and body, for selves are nothing if they are not bodies27, to be fractured, silent and unable to Lisa Moore, Teledildonics: Virtual Lesbians in the Fiction of Jeanette Winterson, in Sexy Bodies: The Strange Carnalities of Feminism ed Elizabeth Grosz and Elspeth Probyn, (New York, NY: Routledge, 1995), 105. 25 Winterson, back cover. 26 Hall, 110. 27 Hutcheon, 120.
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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm express themselves is thought to be fundamentally incompatible with the feminist and queer theory needs to reunite and redefine the body (as well as bodily function) in an attempt to reclaim its territory from the empowered discourse. Wintersons metafictional style draws on all three of these theories, allowing her to construct representations of the body and the self which are both internal and external to these theories. Her use of the postmodern concept of the differend, part of the empowered discourse, in order to construct a site of trauma and unreadability, features of marginalised discourse, in the character of Villanelle shows the way in which it is possible for these theories to coexist in one entity. Villanelles ungendered actions and body transformations compound this and lead to the physicalisation of Venice, using a combination of fragmentation and reformation to create the city as an entity seated in neither discourse and yet contained within both. Finally, the use of passions and desires to predicate identity is both deconstructionist and formulating, once again allowing elements of the two theories to combine in a way which creates not destroys. This balancing of elements allows a queer theory reading of the text to be brought to the fore, as in being part of the us and the Other at once such a reading renders both irrelevant. Representations of the body and the self, then, whilst drawing heavily on theories of the postmodern and feminist body and identity, ultimately find themselves in the realm of queer theory, allowing a more complete understanding of each.

Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm Bibliography: Besley, Catherine. Postmodern Love: Questioning the Metaphysics of Desire. New Literary History 25, no. 3 (1994): 683-705. Burns, Christy L. Fantastic Language: Jeanette Wintersons Recovery of the Postmodern Word. Contemporary Literature 37, no. 2 (1996): 278306. Cingham, Greg. Wintersons Fiction and Enlightenment Historiography. Bucknell Review 41, no. 2 (1998): 57-79. Cokal, Susan. Expression in a Diffuse Landscape: Contexts for Jeanette Wintersons Lyricism. Style 38, no. 1 (2004): 16-37. Doan, Laura. Jeanette Wintersons Sexing the Postmodern. In The Lesbian Postmodern edited by Laura Doan 137-155. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1994. Eide, Marion. Passionate Gods and Desiring Women: Jeanette Winterson, Faith, and Sexuality. International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 6, no. 4 (2001): 279-291. Fahy, Thomas. Fractured Bodies: Privileging the Incomplete in Jeanette Wintersons The Passion. Mosaic: Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 33, no. 3 (2000): 95-106. Hall, Donald E. Gender and Queer Theory. In The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake 102-114. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006. Heckman, Susan. Feminism. In The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake 91-101. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006.

Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm Hutcheon, Linda. Postmodernism. In The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory edited by Simon Malpas and Paul Wake 115-126. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006. Letissier, Georges. Passion and Possession as Alternatives to Cosmic Masculinity in Herstorical Romances. In Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Womens Writing edited by Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn 116-132. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Lindenmeyer, Antje. Postmodern Concepts of the Body in Jeanette Wintersons Written on the Body. Feminist Review, no. 63 (1999): 48-63. Merleau, Chloe Taylor. Postmodern Ethics and the Expression of Differends in the Novels of Jeanette Winterson. Journal of Modern Literature 26, no. 3/4 (2003): 84-102. Moore, Lisa. Teledildonics: Virtual Lesbians in the Fiction of Jeanette Winterson. In Sexy Bodies: The Strange Carnalities of Feminism edited by Elizabeth Grosz and Elspeth Probyn, 104-127. New York, NY: Routledge, 1995. Reynier, Christine. Lart paradoxal de Jeanette Winterson. tudes Anglaises 50, no. 2 (1997): 183-195. Seaboyer, Judith. Second Death in Venice: Romanticism and the Compulsion to Repeat in Jeanette Wintersons The Passion. Contemporary Literature 38, no. 3 (1997): 483-509. Shiffer, Celia. You see, I am no stranger to love: Jeanette Winterson and the Ecstasy of the Word. Critique 46, no. 1 (2004): 31-52. Stowers, Cath. Journeying With Jeanette: Transgressive Travels in Wintersons Fiction. In (Hetero)sexual Politics edited by Mary Maynard

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Celeste Moore 312070454 ENGL1026 Stephen Mansfield Wednesday 2pm and June Purvis 139-158. London: Taylor and Francis, 1995. Sturgeon, Rebecca L. Jeanette Wintersons Postmodernist Spirituality." Tamas, Benyei. Risking the Text: Stories of Love in Jeanette Wintersons The Passion. Hungarian Journal Of English and American Studies 3, no. 2 (1997): 199-209. Winterson, Jeanette. The Passion. London: Vintage, 2001.

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