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Adrienne Rich's Corporeal Writing
This paper aims to analyze the relationship between corporeality and language as seen in the writings of Adrienne Rich (1929-). Rich opposes the traditional assumption that mind (which is related to man) is superior to body (which is related to woman), and further insists that because language has evolved in terms of male-oriented views, sentiments, experiences, etc., it cannot fully express the experiences, perceptions, and intelligences which derive from women's physical specificities. Rich believes that women have a specific unity, comprising their physicality, their bond with nature, and their corporeal intelligence. She therefore suggests that women need a politics of the body; that is, of pregnability and motherhood, orgasm, rape and incest, abortion, etc. Such politics would function as “remedies against the anti-material, anti-sensuous, anti-empirical dogmas of the Church,” since the body has its own signifying process, and its own means of mediating between the social and the natural, and of constructing the subject. In view of this, she feels that it is possible to convert such physicality into both knowledge and power, paralleling Julia Kristeva's theory of the semiotic. As their patriarchal language misunderstands women, Rich intends to create a new 'common language,' through which they can liberate “language from its old context,” and in which they can “receive the experience of not me,” and deliver wholly “the heartbeat, memories, images of strangers.”
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