Download PDF by Susan David Bernstein: Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in

By Susan David Bernstein

ISBN-10: 0807823139

ISBN-13: 9780807823132

ISBN-10: 0807860360

ISBN-13: 9780807860366

Susan Bernstein examines the gendered energy relationships embedded in confessional literature of the Victorian interval. Exploring this dynamic in Charlotte Bront?'s "Villette" Mary Elizabeth Braddon's "Lady Audley's mystery" George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda" and Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" she argues that even supposing women's disclosures to male confessors many times depict wrongdoing dedicated opposed to them, they themselves are considered because the transgressors. Bernstein emphasizes the secularization of confession, yet she additionally areas those narratives in the context of the anti-Catholic tract literature of the time.

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Extra info for Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture

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From Victorian narratives and the case studies of Freudian psychoanalysis to more recent debates over stories of sexual abuse, narratives of male license at the expense of disempowered women continue to constitute a conflicted and contested discourse. Thus testimony starts to look like confession where the very act of telling becomes a transgression. Confessional Subjects examines the cultural codes of gender difference that shape assorted confessional narratives. 7 Moreover, Butler contends that the emphasis on simple gender divisions reinforces the structure of power relations where one gender and sexualitymasculinity and heterosexualityis dominant, the "other" gender and sexualityfemininity and homosexualityis subordinate.

While these accounts of lecherous priests who prey on young women within the hallowed walls of the confessional box are as "fictional" as the four novels whose confession scenes I also examine, all Page xi of these representations emphasize the ways in which power dons specific social features. In other words, confession never occurs outside of particular relationships marked by privilege and dependence, authority and vulnerability; confession is also discursively situated, framed within overlapping discourses.

Perhaps the term "confession" itself seems historically misplaced in the Victorian era. The failure of the Oxford movement to reinstate Roman Catholic ritual in England suggests that confession is a rather un-Victorian activity. This repudiation also reveals a general cultural discomfort with overt self-expression and public display; such disavowal of the revelatory clarifies why confession scenes in Victorian texts frequently take on sensational rhetorical effects. "11 This position illuminates the heated agitation in mid-century England against Catholicism and its rituals of display and disclosure like confession.

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Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture by Susan David Bernstein


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