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

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title
"Sometime There is Breath": Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons as Maternal Lexicon
author
Williams, Katherine Mills
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
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
type
Thesis

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