Other Sexes

Rewriting Difference from Woolf to Winterson

By Andrea L. Harris

Subjects: Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791444566, 187 pages, November 1999
Hardcover : 9780791444559, 187 pages, November 1999

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Table of contents



(Re)placing the Feminine in Feminist Theory

"This Difference . . . This Identity . . . Was Overcome": Reintegrating Masculine and Feminine in Virginia Woolf's The Waves

"The Third Sex": Figures of Inversion in Djuna Barnes's Nightwood

"A Secret Second Tongue": The Enigma of the Feminine in Marianne Hauser's The Talking Room

A Feminist Ethics of Love: Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body



Works Cited


Explores alternatives to the gender binary in twentieth-century women's fiction.


In 1929, Virginia Woolf used the phrase "other sexes" to point out the dire need to expand our way of thinking about sexual difference. The fiction studied here does just that, by sketching the contours of a world where genders, sexes, and sexualities proliferate and multiply.

Focusing on a selection of novels by Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Marianne Hauser, and Jeanette Winterson—novels that cross conventional boundaries between British and American, modern and postmodern, canonical and non-canonical—Andrea L. Harris argues that there is a continuum in these novelists' investigations of gender. Taking as theoretical models Judith Butler's theory of performative gender and Luce Irigaray's concept of the sensible transcendental, Harris analyzes increasingly more radical challenges to the notion of two sexes and two genders throughout the twentieth century.

Andrea L. Harris is Associate Professor of English at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.


"Harris brings a fresh perspective to Woolf and Barnes, introduces readers to Hauser, and builds on critical discussions of Winterson. Few studies cover this much theoretical terrain, and at the same time sustain a unified perspective on a single issue. Harris teases out nearly every imaginable reading of the notion of 'other sexes.'" — Laura Doan, coeditor of Sexology in Culture: Labelling Bodies and Desires

"Harris presents very interesting and original readings of the novels she considers. The readings themselves provide unique insights, but are then woven into an overall theme that is also unique. It was the kind of book that I found myself thinking about later and wanting to talk about; in part because the subject matter was intriguing and in part because of Harris's way of developing her topic." — Mary Bloodsworth, Washington State University