Burchell and Eric Homberger write that in the early twentieth century the United States was experiencing a shortage of labor that in turn caused a raise in wages. Accompanied with the power of propaganda, improvements in communication and transportation, europeans, among many others, who had very few opportunities in their home countries, either as the result of economic inefficiencies or political or religious oppression, were encouraged to embark on a long journey. For these people the idea of America stood for a new society in which every man can forge his own destiny and realize his dreams of self-fulfillment (Burchell and Homberger 1989, 127-8). Jewish, Italian and Slavic immigrants mostly settled writing in east coast urban and industrial areas because it was easier to get a job and cheaper to get housing in bigger cities than in the rural areas. In terms of succeeding in assimilating to American society, those immigrants who came from countries with a culture similar to that of the United States found the transition to be somewhat easier than those of very different socio-cultural backgrounds. The jews encountered hostility on the parts of Americans, as well as an unfamiliar culture and language upon their arrival (Burchell and Homberger 1989, 130-1). As outcasts, they formed their own communities, for instance,.
Subjectivation and the new Woman in yezierska. The issue of subjectivation is especially interesting when we place it in the period when attitudes of and toward women in the United States started to change at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Historically, the new Woman emerged at the end of the nineteenth century due to advances made in technology (the advance of household appliances making housework easier and less time consuming, and the typewriter and telephone creating jobs that were predominantly filled by women) and the. In Western thought women traditionally could not be disassociated from their function in the family, an assertion that continued in Colonial America, which took the subordination of women for granted, as Linda kerber notes in her essay separate Spheres, female worlds, womans Place. Women were understood to live only in the private sphere of life; the public was reserved for men, up until toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the new Woman emerged and took her first steps toward achieving greater equality between the sexes. Anzia yezierskas novel, bread givers captures these very first tentative steps as it deals with a working-class Polish Jewish girls struggles with acculturation and assimilation into American society as well as her struggles against her domineering fathers traditional views about womens paperless roles in society. In the following section i am going to take a look at how immigration in turn of the century United States coincided with the emergence of the new Woman and challenged traditional assumptions about gender roles. Immigration and the new Woman. In their essay the Immigrant Experience,.
These bodily acts, the embodying of gender, are performed by the individual, but that does not mean that the individual performs her gender ideals devoid of societys influence. In fact, writes Butler, the family in which certain gender norms are enforced, rewarded or punished itself takes its cue from society at large. In this way, the act has already been rehearsed, but more than that, the act is really a reenactment of socially accepted gender acts, and this reenactment further legitimizes the socially accepted gender norms. Therefore, butler argues, though it is individual bodies that enact the social performance of gender, these acts immediately become public, and so gender is not a wholly individual choice, but something that is regulated by society long before the performance takes place (Butler 1988, 525-6). The idea of gender as regulatory fiction comes up again in this Butler essay as well. Butler suggests that when society sees certain acts as expressions of gender, that implies that there is a stable gender identity that preexists the act, and if the act conforms to that preexisting gender identity then the actor is rewarded, whereas if the act does. By contrast, butler argues that if this act is a performance of gender, and not an expression of gender, that means that there is no such thing as a gender identity that preexists the act, the performance, because it only ever exists in the performance.
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quot;ng foucault, butler says that the identity that is informed by gender based on heterosexuality is revealed as a regulatory fiction. Gender is not a noun or an attribute, but a performance regulated by heteronormativity (Butler 1990, 24). There is no gender identity behind language, it is performatively produced through acts of heterosexual desire. From this it follows that there must be an agent who exercises her dream agency in performing her gender (Butler 1990, 25). Moreover, sexuality does not exist outside of the heteronormative law. Turning to foucault, butler says that the subject has no sexuality outside, prior, or after power inherent in the prohibitive heteronormative law (Butler 1990, 29).
However, as Butler emphasizes, it would be a mistake to return to the idea that gender is defined by biology, despite the fact that sexuality is constructed within discourse and power that are based on heteronormativity and male privilege, and therefore sex cannot exist beyond. Butler concludes that there is no such thing as a real woman, by which she means one that pre-exists heteronormative regulatory practices that are in fact based on power relations (Butler 1990, 33). In Performative acts and Gender Constitution, butler writes that gender is not a stable identity that informs the actions of the person, rather, gender identity is formed through repetition of stylized acts. Even more importantly, gender is formed through certain gestures and movements of the body that create the illusion of a stable gendered self (519). In this understanding gender exists in a social temporality, in which the repetitive bodily acts are understood as performances that become conceptualized as gender identity both by the actor and her audience, but only in that timeframe that the act is being performed. Subsequently, butler argues, the temporary nature of gender identity means that it can be constructed differently in different times. Gender identity is therefore never stable, but a temporary illusion that is apparent only in the moment of performance and filtered through the gender assumptions of actor and audience (520).
She argues that since there can be no pre-existing category of women, no woman can stand, literally and figuratively, before the law, because she is created by the law (Butler 1990, 4). There is no need for a unifying identity as women, as such coherence is the product of confining woman within a heterosexual matrix, in Butlers words, which means that woman is created through heterosexual practices that exclude everyone falling outside of heteronormativity, in which case. The assumption that sex is determined by biology while gender is a social construct, and that gender is not the causal result of sex nor is it as fixed as sex, fails to take into account that we do define gender in a binary system. In this binary system gender mirrors sex and is restricted by it: we immediately assign feminine features to female sex. From this it follows that sex is always already gendered.
Butler argues that it makes no sense to define gender as a cultural representation of sex if sex is already a gendered category (Butler 1990, 6-7). By contrast, butler suggests that gender identity is not fixed, but fluid, and it changes depending on the circumstances. She argues that identity is not already gendered according to certain pre-existing notions of what gender is like. However the question remains: to what extent does gender formation inform identity (Butler 1990, 16)? Using the term intelligible gender, butler explains that gender signifies a coherent correlation between sex, gender, sexual practice and desire, with these terms having a causal relationship with one another. Specifically, heterosexual desire is what strengthens the binary system of male and female, in which members desire the opposite sex, which in turn informs their gender, which informs their identity. In this sense heterosexuality regulates gender as a binary relation in which the feminine and the masculine are defined and differentiated from one another through the practice of heterosexual desire (Butler 1990, 17). This binary restriction on sex serves to create a compulsory heterosexuality, therefore, if heterosexuality is undermined, it is possible to establish personhood without having to take sex into consideration. For Butler, the lesbian emerges as a third gender, in so far as she transcends the binary restriction on sex (Butler 1990, 19).
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Foucault, butler writes, understands resistance as an effect of power, because even as it opposes power it remains within that power: resistance cannot be understood outside of the thank power relation it opposes, only within (Butler 1997, 98-9). Butler takes the foucauldian subject and reinterprets it in terms of gender construction in her essay subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire. As she writes, it is the systems of power that produce the subject they represent, which means that woman as the subject of feminism is herself a discursive formation of politics, defined and regulated according to the particulars of the system she is produced. Power acts in a capillary manner, that is, as we have seen with the prisoner who internalized Benthams Panopticon, it is us regulating our own selves; there is no need for an outside source of power regulating. According to butler, what feminist critique should concern itself with is the ways in which the category of woman is produced and restricted by power structures, precisely because the way feminist critique conceptualizes emancipation is within the framework of the same social construction they had. The question arises then, says Butler, whether women consent to be governed in this way (Butler 1990, 2). Consequently, butler argues, there is no pre-existing subject of women, because women cannot be denoted as a common identity applicable to all women. This idea that gender is consistent in different contexts is based on the faulty notion that women as a category is defined by the universal experience of oppression by the opposing, male, gender (Butler 1990, 3). This means that the identity of women comes from being defined against and within a masculine framework, which, according to butler, is a mistake and defeats the purpose of feminists.
An important characteristic of the foucauldian understanding of power is that power is not the sole prerogative of the state; it exists at every level of society ranging from the personal to the institutional (Foucault 1982, 795). In the essay subjection, resistance, resignification, judith Butler explains the foucauldian term assujettissement or subjectivation as a process through which one becomes the subject as well as the process of subjection. In the latter case one becomes the subject by first being subjected to power, which usually takes place attended through the body (83). Butler interprets foucaults ideas about the subjectivation of the prisoner not as an exterior relation of power in which the institution, in this case the prison, subordinates the prisoner, but as an internalizing process the prisoner goes through. This means that more than just simply acting on the prisoner, dominating him, the prison activates the prisoner in his own subjectivation in regulating him (Butler 1997, 84). As she explains, though the prison acts on the prisoners body by restricting his movement and regulating his actions, it is the prisoner who, in obeying the prisons rules, subjects himself to the institution and in doing so forms his identity of being a prisoner. As she"s foucault, the prisoners soul is the one having an imprisoning effect, thus the soul is the prison of the body (Butler 1997, 85). Butler explains that the foucauldian subject is formed, subjectivated, in repetition, meaning that the act of subjectivation has to be repeated for the subject to form, it does not take place only once (Butler 1997, 94).
character. Subjectivation, in his essay the subject and Power, michel foucault redefines what power means and examines how human beings turn themselves into subjects as opposed to being objectified by entities that have power over them. In fact, he gives two meanings for subject: one where subject is someone who is subjected to someone else, and the other who is an agent subject, subjected only to their own consciousness (781). To foucault power is not a thing, but a relation. The exercise of power is not only a relation between two entities, be it two individuals or an individual and an institution, but an action that alters another action. In this sense power is not about one partner dominating another who consents to the domination, but one action dominating another action. In a power relationship both dominance and passivity are the result of active participation: one actor governs the possible actions/reactions of the other, who is also free to choose a course of action (Foucault 1982, 788-9).
Though foucault uses the term in a more general sense, butler broadens its application when she discusses it in terms of gender and gender construction. This aspect caught my eye because it corresponds with the specific historical period of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when American society was going through an enormous change due to technological innovation, immigration, and the effects of World War i, all. Yezierskas, bread givers is a particularly good choice for character analysis because of its acknowledged autobiographical nature, which means that it reflects the period in terms of personal experience, yet, as hippie a work of fiction, gives the reader enough distance to immerse herself in Sara. Bread givers was first published in 1910, exactly in the period that was seeing such profound changes in society. Another advantage of the novel is that it discusses the effects of immigration, which provides an outsiders critical view of American society. My main argument is that Sara Smolinsky, the protagonist. Bread givers and yezierskas avatar, goes through the process of subjectivation deeply influenced by her immigrant status, a process which highlights the illusory and temporary nature of gender construction as defined by butler. In the following sections i am going to review foucaults theories about subjectivation, butlers theories about the same as well as her theories about gender construction.
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Assujettissement and writing the Immigrant Experience in Anzia yezierskas. Bread givers " by judit Szilák, judit szilák is a recent graduate of Eötvös Loránd Universitys Masters program in American Studies. Her article featured here in americana formed part of her thesis, the subject of which was gender construction in turn of the century fiction, focusing on yezierskas. Scott Fitzgeralds short story bernice bobs Her hair, and his novel. The Great Gatsby, relating these fictional characters and their foucauldian subjectivation to the historical emergence of the new Woman. Email: Introduction, the present paper aims to give a textual analysis of an early twentieth century fictional work by Anzia yezierska in an effort to observe the ways in which Michel foucaults theories regarding power and assujettissement, or subjectivation, and Judith Butlers related theories about. Subjectivation and gender construction are theories with established cultural applications, as foucault relates the former to the prisoner of Jeremy benthams Panopticon, and Butler explains it in terms of sexuality. For my purposes, subjectivation is a concept that would be particularly interesting to see applied to fictional works to determine whether the theory stood up to examination. Because the theory of subjectivation is so precisely defined, it provides an exact template for character analysis.