Catalogue

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White women writing white : H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and whiteness /
Renée R. Curry.
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
description
xii, 184 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
031331019X (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
isbn
031331019X (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
3799449
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [171]-178) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Renee R. Curry is Professor of Literature and Writing at California State University, San Marcos.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-11-01:
Stating that "writing white constitutes writing authored from an acknowledged or unacknowledged white perspective; ... that implies or explicitly delivers the concept of 'whiteness' to a text; ... that remains 'ignorant' regarding white racial politics ...; and/or ... that employs the word 'white' to maintain ideological systems of mastery and dichotomy in the text," Curry (California State Univ., San Marcos) claims to be the first to draw attention to "racial signifiers that locate whiteness" in the poetry of H.D., Bishop, and Plath. She chooses poetry for its long association with "prophecy, wisdom, sages, and muses," and she expects that this discussion will give feminists discomfort. Unfortunately, since she frequently employs quotations from, and summaries of, comments by other critics, no "reading" can be wholly attributed to Curry or understood as "original." The thrust throughout to understand "white"--and other colors--as inevitably related to issues of race undercuts other metaphoric possibilities (i.e., personal, religious, cultural symbolism) and ignores the deliberate ambiguity of elegant poetic language, ironic intentions, and sometimes whimsy. Curry states that she does not wish to "label" H.D., Bishop, and Plath as "racists"; nonetheless, she urges that these poets be read in terms of their failure to testify to the moral and psychological weight of their "whiteness." Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. J. Benardete; CUNY Hunter College
Reviews
Review Quotes
'œ...this book, by "shed[ding] a stark light on [the] whiteness" that permeates the study of all things American, may help begin the process of peeling back those cultural accoutrements.'' JASAT
'œWhite Women Writing is an important book for feminist teachers and scholars of women's poetry, and I won't teach these poets again without it.'' NWSA Journal
"Curry's bracing investigation of poetry and whiteness makes the previously invisible much easier to see." - David Wyatt University of Maryland
"Renee Curry's White Women Writing White is an admirably well researched, independent, brave, and often brilliant and startling study. It will undoubtedly prove germinal in critical whiteness studies, an important new sub-field in literary and cultural studies. This book provides an absolutely new perspective on the poets Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath. It draws attention, truly for the first time, to the racial signifiers in the texts of these three great poets. It treats whiteness as a marked characteristic in the way that blackness and Asian-ness have always functioned as marked traits in American literature and culture. It repeatedly and convincingly locates racial meanings in passages that have never been read in that light before. This book transforms the landscape. It is the most significant new work on these poets in years." - Steven Gould Axelrod Professor of English, University of California, Riverside
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Black writers often tell of their own experiences. Similarly, though less obviously, white writers' works may reflect the experience of being white. The author argues that H.D., Bishop, & Plath wrote from an unproclaimed dominant white perspective.
Long Description
Just as the cultural background of readers shapes how they respond to texts, the context in which writers live shapes what they write. When a context is dominant within a culture, the effects of that context upon an author may be taken for granted and thus overlooked. Race is a powerful factor in shaping literary works. Literature by black writers, for example, often reflects the experiences of African Americans. At the same time, though perhaps less obviously, literature by white writers may similarly reflect the experience of being white. This book argues that H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath wrote from an unproclaimed dominant white perspective that becomes evident in their poetry. Loosely delineated, "writing white" constitutes writing authored from an acknowledged or unacknowledged white perspective; writing that implies or explicitly delivers the concept of "whiteness" to a text; writing that remains unconcerned with white racial politics internal and external to the text; and writing that uses the word "white" to maintain ideological systems of mastery and dichotomy. This book examines numerous poems in terms of whiteness. Each chapter places one poet in the larger context of historical and cultural racial events prevalent during the time of her writing and explores the particular poems created and published during that period.
Long Description
Just as the cultural background of readers shapes how they respond to texts, the context in which writers live shapes what they write. When a context is dominant within a culture, the effects of that context upon an author may be taken for granted and thus overlooked. Race is a powerful factor in shaping literary works. Literature by black writers, for example, often reflects the experiences of African Americans. At the same time, though perhaps less obviously, literature by white writers may similarly reflect the experience of being white. This book argues that H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath wrote from an unproclaimed dominant white perspective that becomes evident in their poetry. Loosely delineated, writing white constitutes writing authored from an acknowledged or unacknowledged white perspective; writing that implies or explicitly delivers the concept of whiteness to a text; writing that remains unconcerned with white racial politics internal and external to the text; and writing that uses the word white to maintain ideological systems of mastery and dichotomy. This book examines numerous poems in terms of whiteness. Each chapter places one poet in the larger context of historical and cultural racial events prevalent during the time of her writing and explores the particular poems created and published during that period.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: "A Poetics of Presumption"p. 1
"Minute Granules on a White Thread": H.D. and a Masterful Whitenessp. 21
"A Sort of Inheritance; White": Elizabeth Bishop and Selective Self-Reflection on Whitenessp. 75
"White: It Is a Complexion of the Mind": The Enactment of Whiteness in Sylvia Plath's Poetryp. 123
Conclusionp. 169
Bibliographyp. 171
Indexp. 179
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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