Towards a Matricentric Feminist Poetics

Olivia Heal

Abstract


The title of this article recalls that of Elaine Showalter’s essay "Towards a Feminist Poetics," in which she posits "gynocritics" as a term for a mode of "feminist criticism … concerned with woman as writer—with woman as the producer of textual meaning, with the history, themes, genres and structures of literature by women" (25). Here, I call for a matricentric feminist criticism, or "matricritics," where the latter refers to that area of literary criticism concerned with the mother as a writer and the attendant subjects. In attempting to draw up a matricritics, I begin by acknowledging the current rise in English-language maternal writing. I then, in the first part of this three-part article, list a number of formal tendencies common to this body of writing, drawing particularly on "Accumulations (Appendix F)" by Kate Zambreno. In the second part, in direct response to this taxonomy, I speculate on and begin to sketch out a critical methodology for reading maternal writing. The third part of the article is given over to a creative matricritical reading of "Appendix F"; this standalone piece is suggestive of how we might conceive of a matricentric feminist reading methodology in practice. An afterword highlights the matricritical elements at work in this alternative close reading.

Full Text:

PDF


We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.