When Daughters Leave: Essay Writing and The Fugitive Subject

Kirsty Gunn (Lead / Corresponding author), Gail Low (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Following Paul Heilker’s suggestion in his book, The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form (1996), that we should think of the essay as ‘less than a thing than it is an action, less an artifact than an activity, less a noun than a verb’, this paper eschews conventional academic forms of critiques and imagines a more open form that makes room for the personal, the subjective, the conceptual and the creative, thus writing critique as a rhetorical, textual and creative performance. Reading and writing about two poems that draw on the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and threaded through by other writers and theorists, and experiences, ‘When Daughters Leave’ performs a ‛tableau vivant’ of subjectivity on the page by employing two individual ‘I’ voices who function both separately, neither a ‘we’ nor an ‘I’, to highlight the porous quality of that first person pronoun. The essay also explores the textual and affective terrain of mothers and daughters as subjects and objects of writing, and as metaphors for thinking about subjectivity in an essay about essay writing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWriting in Practice
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Fingerprint

Essay Writing
Subjectivity
Daughters
Poem
First Person Pronoun
Theorists
Writer
Pedagogy
Verbs
Rhetoric
Open Form
Nouns
Creative Writing
Conventional
Tableau Vivant
Artifact
Affective

Keywords

  • Essay
  • Subjectivity
  • Mothers
  • Daughters
  • Persephone
  • Demeter
  • Myth
  • Language
  • First person pronoun

Cite this

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title = "When Daughters Leave: Essay Writing and The Fugitive Subject",
abstract = "Following Paul Heilker’s suggestion in his book, The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form (1996), that we should think of the essay as ‘less than a thing than it is an action, less an artifact than an activity, less a noun than a verb’, this paper eschews conventional academic forms of critiques and imagines a more open form that makes room for the personal, the subjective, the conceptual and the creative, thus writing critique as a rhetorical, textual and creative performance. Reading and writing about two poems that draw on the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and threaded through by other writers and theorists, and experiences, ‘When Daughters Leave’ performs a ‛tableau vivant’ of subjectivity on the page by employing two individual ‘I’ voices who function both separately, neither a ‘we’ nor an ‘I’, to highlight the porous quality of that first person pronoun. The essay also explores the textual and affective terrain of mothers and daughters as subjects and objects of writing, and as metaphors for thinking about subjectivity in an essay about essay writing.",
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When Daughters Leave : Essay Writing and The Fugitive Subject. / Gunn, Kirsty (Lead / Corresponding author); Low, Gail (Lead / Corresponding author).

In: Writing in Practice, Vol. 5, 03.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Low, Gail

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AB - Following Paul Heilker’s suggestion in his book, The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form (1996), that we should think of the essay as ‘less than a thing than it is an action, less an artifact than an activity, less a noun than a verb’, this paper eschews conventional academic forms of critiques and imagines a more open form that makes room for the personal, the subjective, the conceptual and the creative, thus writing critique as a rhetorical, textual and creative performance. Reading and writing about two poems that draw on the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and threaded through by other writers and theorists, and experiences, ‘When Daughters Leave’ performs a ‛tableau vivant’ of subjectivity on the page by employing two individual ‘I’ voices who function both separately, neither a ‘we’ nor an ‘I’, to highlight the porous quality of that first person pronoun. The essay also explores the textual and affective terrain of mothers and daughters as subjects and objects of writing, and as metaphors for thinking about subjectivity in an essay about essay writing.

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