10/13 My Life Response

October 13th, 2010

” Steedman also helps us to perceive that the mother is not just the primordial subject but also a socially specific subject, who exists beyond the (psychoanalytic) narrative of her loss. The m(OTHER) is not just a metaphor, in other words; she is also a social subject whose difference and specificity needs to be recognized and found a place in our thinking “(Anderson, 114).

“What is the gender on paper. A fatigue in the cold, fear of finishing. And doesn’t it make a difference to me, reading this book now, to know that you are going to read the same book afterwards, in the same copy, these selfsame words-and would that difference made be different if you were reading your own copy of the book at the same time that I was reading mine. It seemed natural to her to confuse the romantic with the motherly” (Hejinian, 76).

The passage from Autobiography explains that the presence of “mother” in feminist autobiographies is not only a metaphorical representation embedded in the existence of the female “I”, but that “mother” is a social construct that serves a social purpose that helps place the author in a given life period. In other words, “mother” gives the author a platform to build social notions of herself as well as as a social perspective. For instance, to write on the death of the mother suggests social complications for the author, the arrangement of the funeral: the ceremonial is social; to lose a mother is to be fully-grown, etc. By ┬ásaying that “mother” is not just a metaphor but rather a social subject, Steedman may be suggesting that as any other social subject, ‘mother” has social attributes that the author wants to mirror in her autobiography.

Such is the case in the previously stated passage from My Life, where the anonymous “her” ( could be the author talking in third person, or the reader assumed to be a female) seems to “confuse the romantic with the motherly”. Here, Hejinian ties the “romantic”, which is socially a feminine concern, with the motherly, which, as argued by ┬áSteedman, is a social subject. Thus, a social concern is advocated by a social subject, creating an almost perfect argument. Perhaps, the only way for “her” to not be indifferent to the selfsame words is by confusing the romantic with the motherly, meaning that, if “mother” is a social thus universal subject, anyone can care for the romantic, or the content of someone’s selfsame words, if you parallel it the “mother subject”, whom all readers have been socialized to in one way or another.

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