Swelling, Leaking, Merging: A Material Feminist Reading of Strindberg’s A Madman’s Manifesto
2014 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, no 1, 4-19 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In this article, I revisit my own doctoral thesis—a queer reading of Swedish modernist author August Strindberg—in order to discuss what materialist feminism's active concept of matter might have entailed for this project. In doing so, I reflected on the possibility that material feminism's notion of “other worldling” and material agency does not just take place in science fiction, but can be seen on the level of textual meaning in all kinds of literature, including “realist”. To discuss this, I turned to previous research (including my own) about Strindberg's novel A Madman's Manifesto (1887–1888), focusing on the handling of the novel's monstrous, active, and changing female bodies. The humanist situatedness of these previous studies, where discourse is presumed to be active and matter passive, meant that these bodies stood out as “absurdities” and were often being handled via “gatekeepers of reality”, i.e. arguments and designations with the aim of determining what is “real” in literature. But what if, I asked, the “absurdities” in the novel can be seen as depictions of material agency?In a renewed reading of A Madman's Manifesto, I employed Karen Barad's concept of “intra-activity”, according to which “meaning” is jointly produced by matter and discourse. Thus, it became apparent that literary discourse alone did not have the power to alter the bodies in the novel, but had to intra-act with literary matter in the shape of alcohol. Furthermore, the literary matter in the novel turned out to be able to intra-act with different discourses at the same time and in different ways, e.g. by “kicking back”. Thus, focusing on processes of literary materialization in the novel enabled a story of female bodily resistance to be told in spite of the fact that it was silenced by the heteronormative discourse of the narrator.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. no 1, 4-19 p.
Materiality, interpretation, Strindberg, literature
Research subject Literature
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-212506DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2013.814301OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-212506DiVA: diva2:678133