Performing the author/mother/merchant/wife: moving subject positions in Minna Canth's autobiography
Saresma, T. (2010). Performing the author/mother/merchant/wife: moving subject positions in Minna Canth's autobiography. In T. Lähdesmäki (Ed.), Gender, nation, narration: critical readings of cultural phenomena (pp. 24-39). Jyväskylä studies in humanities (134). Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä. Retrieved from https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/bitstream/handle/123456789/23004/9789513938291.pdf
Published inJyväskylä studies in humanities
© University of Jyväskylä
Reading autobiography as a performative act enables for the analysis of processes involved in constructing the self. It provides a space for analysing the ways in which gender, nationality, and other social locations of the subject are negotiated. In this article, I read the famous Finnish nineteenth-century playwright and author Minna Canth’s concise autobiography, focusing on various locations of the autobiographical subject in this rather laconic matter-of-fact text. My reading follows current trends in feminist autobiographical theorising as well as feminist politics of reading. I strive to deconstruct the interpretation of autobiographies as dichotomously fixed texts. I suggest a more flexible reading that would take the ambiguities of the genre seriously, such as describing both the public and the private life of the author, constructing the subject of the narrative, both relational and autonomous, in addition to varying stylistically between mere factuality and decorative description. Such a reading takes into account the shifts of the subject positions as well as the styles of narration moving between feminine and masculine, rational and emotional, chronologically organised progress of the plot and a more vague way of organising the narrative according to the inner logic or the unconscious. In analysing the variations of narration, inspired by the theoretical and methodological discussion on intersectionality, I conceptualize autobiography as a site for negotiating and performing various subject positions, thus striving for a non-essential reading of autobiographies. ...
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
Is part of publicationGender, nation, narration: critical readings of cultural phenomena. Edited by T. Lähdesmäki. Jyväskylä studies in humanities (134). Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä. ISBN 978-951-39-3810-9