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"Sometime There is Breath": Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons as Maternal Lexicon

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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abstract
A study of Gertrude Stein's poetry collection Tender Buttons, this thesis uncovers and explores the text's covert maternal trope. Although Stein staunchly evaded categorization as a feminist, the employment of maternal imagery and the exploration of a language predicated by the feminine space of the womb warrant a reassessment of Stein's stance on feminism. This thesis identifies and elucidates the poetic exploration of the womb as a space containing one not yet formed, that is, the unnamed, ungendered, uninscribed in the restrictive and hegemonic yoke of culture. In this space, Stein delights in the indeterminacy of a language not yet born into the society that prescribes it to a single denotative method. Through consideration of French Feminism, this thesis identifies Stein's poetry as a harbinger of Kristeva's semiotic register yet resists its categorization as feminist. Interpreting Tender Buttons instead as a portent of diachronic linguistics, I hope to extend the analysis of the collection beyond the feminist position that increasingly dominates Stein scholarship. Positing the collection as an attempt toward the nullification of gendered writing, I suggest the potential to divest the employment of the female body as a tool solely for the construction of a feminist/linguistic argument.
subject
experimental poetry
feminism
Gertrude Stein
maternal
poetics
Tender Buttons
contributor
Williams, Katherine Mills (author)
DeShazer, Mary K. (committee chair)
Overing, Gillian (committee member)
Hena, Omaar (committee member)
date
2014-01-15T09:35:31Z (accessioned)
2015-01-15T09:30:09Z (available)
2013 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
embargo
2015-01-15 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/39126 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
"Sometime There is Breath": Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons as Maternal Lexicon
type
Thesis

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