Creating absence to acknowledge presence : relational subjectivity and postmodernism in Carol Shields’s 'The Stone Diaries'
This paper explores the relationship between postmodernist discourses and feminist discourses, asking, firstly, whether or not feminist political action is possible within a postmodernist theoretical climate that scrutinizes the construction of universalizing group identities, and, secondly, how political action might be undertaken in such a theoretical climate. I contend that Carol Shields, reflecting the postmodernist ideology of Jean-François Lyotard and Patricia Waugh, creates Daisy Goodwill Flett’s absence in The Stone Diaries. This absence, in turn, acts to acknowledge the gaps in knowledge that exist within self-legitimating grand narratives. It demonstrates that Daisy’s performance of these grand narratives, particularly heteronormativity, necessarily obstructs her voice and, thereby, marginalizes her ability to act politically within that narrative. The Stone Diaries, then, calls for a plural public space by exposing what remains unknown—women’s lives and narratives—within the current public space.
gender performance, feminine subjectivity, Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries, postmodernism, gender studies
Master of Arts (M.A.)