Robinson sets up a dialogue between feminist critical theory and contemporary women's fiction in order to argue for a new way of reading the specificity of women's writing. Through theoretically informed readings of novels by Doris Lessing, Angela Carter, and Gayl Jones, the author argues that female subjectivity is engendered in discourse through the woman writer's strategic engagement in representational systems that rely on a singular figure of Woman for coherence. Through this engagement, women's self-representation emerges as a process through which women take up multiple and contradictory positions in relation to different hegemonic discursive systems, and through which they engender themselves as subjects.
Finally, Engendering the Subject suggests how women's fiction can provide a model for a feminist practice of reading that would simultaneously work against the historical containment of Woman, and for the empowerment of women as subjects of cultural practices.
Sally Robinson is Assistant Professor of English at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
"I like best the clear, direct, and unrelenting manner in which Robinson sets forth her argument. She writes lucidly and avoids jargon. As a result, the text is most enjoyable reading.
"Her basic approach takes us to the heart of some very pressing issues. By choosing to focus on the question of the subject position, Robinson elects an extremely significant and timely topic which is both important within current debates in feminist criticism and theory, and significant to broader critical and theoretical debates in the field today." — Elizabeth Meese, University of Alabama