Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Sheryl O'Donnell
In Women's Time Kristeva designates three broad currents of feminist struggle: first, the suffragist movement declaring a universalist view of women's experience regardless of class, age, and cultures; second, the phase of difference, that she regards as "returning to an archaic (mythic) memory as well as cyclical or monumental temporality of marginal movements" (355); and third, a trend that she wholeheartedly supports for their concept that "the dichotomy of man and woman as an opposition of two rival entities is a problem of metaphysics" (366).
This thesis discusses Howard and Gordon as proponents of the second phase because they write the post-immigrant experience of a group of women identified by their Irish origin and the influence of the Catholic church which, on the one hand, positions them in an ethnic niche within mainstream American culture but on the other hand, works towards presenting this experience as typical for the integration of immigrant families in big cities. In their novels Howard and Gordon attempt to write the experience of the Irish American women reclaiming their matrilineal past; while Before My Time posits the question of what a woman's individual project could be in relation to other women, apart from her socially prescribed roles as homemaker, mother, and professional, The Other Side provides a possible answer to this question in writing a family history through the perspective of women but without excluding men's viewpoint. In this way they establish themselves as writers following the guidelines of second wave feminism concerned with the specificity of women's experiences and their expression through images of the female body as well as a reading of the mother that if tailored on the public image of the Virgin Mary endorsed by patriarchy, proves unsatisfactory. The writers, however, though not launching their explorations beyond the heterosexual matrix, seem to agree with Kristeva's point about the positionality of femininity and masculinity and try to transgress their boundaries by depicting characters that share these characteristics.
Gogovska, Neli, "Constructions of Female Identities in Mary Gordon's The Other Side and Maureen Howard's Before My Time" (2004). Theses and Dissertations. 1090.