Resident Alien : Feminist Cultural Criticism
In this book Janet Wolff examines the ways in which travel is used as a metaphor in cultural theory, and the use of dance (another form of 'mobility') as an image of liberation, particularly in relation to women. The topic of marginality is addressed - Walter Benjamin's marginality to the academy, the marginality of Gwen John and Rainer Maria Rilke in Paris in the 1900s - and the more general question of whether exile or distance provides a better vantage-point for cultural criticism than centrality and stability. Wolff seeks to break down the boundaries between academic and personal writing.The question of memoir and cultural theory is addressed with regard to Walter Benjamin, and several of the essays explore the particular meeting point of memory, personal experience, and cultural/sociological analysis. With its linked themes of exile, memoir and movement, the book has a wide range of focus: opera, rock 'n' roll, a Schubert quartet, feminist literary criticism, Gwen John's interiors, and Victorian lady travellers. Janet Wolff's book is an important contribution to cultural theory and feminist analysis.
- Hardback | 168 pages
- 152 x 229mm | 407g
- 20 Feb 1995
- Polity Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
Table of contents
List of Plates. 1. The Female Stranger: Marginality and Modes of Writing. 2. Eddie Cochran, Donna Anna and the Dark Sister: Personal Experience and Cultural History. 3. Memoirs and Micrologies: Walter Benjamin, Feminism and Cultural Analysis. 4. Death and the Maiden: Does Semiotics Justify Murder? 5. Dance Criticism: Feminism, Theory and Choreography. 6. The Artist and The Flaneur: Rodin, Rilke and Gwen John in Paris. 7. On the Road Again: Metaphors of Travel in Cultural Criticism. 8. Angry Young Men and Minor (Female) Characters: The Idea of "America" in 1950s Popular Culture. Index.
"Resident Alien is an engaging work of feminist cultural criticism that offers us the seductively modern figure of the female stranger. Intelligent, unpredictable, and above all mobile in her perspective, Janet Wolff shrewdly dissects the gender politics of travel metaphors at the heart of contemporary theory." Nancy K. Millers, City University of New York "Resident Alien critiques the pervasive sexism permeating our society, ferreting out the gender prejudice not merely flourishing in popular culture but equally pervasive among the brightest lights of modernist creation as well." Linda Nochlin, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University "I am always a little bit disappointed when I pick up a collection of recent essays, but Janet Wolff's Resident Alien is a delightful exception! ... She creatively and insightfully joins together personal moments with larger, more encompassing cultural ones [and] her personal approach with a critical reflection is an exceptionally clear-sighted way to go about cultural criticism generally and feminist cultural criticism specifically." Environment and Planning "A very stimulating book. Wolff's attempt to make theoretical explorations accessible by breaking down the boundaries between academic and personal writing was successful. The essays gain the immediacy of personal writing without becoming bogged down in detailed disclosures or self-justifications." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology