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Auto-Theory as an Emerging Mode of Feminist Practice Across Media

Auto-Theory as an Emerging Mode of Feminist Practice Across Media

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Title: Auto-Theory as an Emerging Mode of Feminist Practice Across Media
Author: Fournier, Lauren
Abstract: Joan Hawkins describes Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick (1998) as “theoretical fiction,” meaning not simply fiction informed by theory but fiction in which “theory becomes an intrinsic part of the ‘plot,’ a mover and shaker in the fictional universe created by the author.” In similar fashion, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015) and Paul B. Preciado’s Testo Junkie (2008) have been described as auto-theory, though this term has not yet been defined. My dissertation seeks to define and historicize this emerging mode of feminist practice, contextualizing it in light of the history of feminist performance art and conceptualism; African-American feminist artist Adrian Piper’s durational performance piece Food for the Spirit (1971) becomes an entry point for my discussion of auto-theory as a mode of feminist practice. This paper will provide an introduction to the framework and key concepts through which I approach “auto-theory”: a trans-medial, feminist and queer feminist practice that manifests across fiction, critical writing, sound, film, video, art writing and criticism, and performance art. In auto-theory, theorized personal anecdotes or embodied actions constellate with fragments from the history of philosophy to form potent analyses of gender, politics, academia, and contemporary art. Embodied experience becomes the primary material for generating theory, foregrounding disclosure and ambivalence as that which enhances critical rigour and relevance; this move is fundamentally feminist, even as many of these writers and artists openly problematize the feminist position. These writers have internalized such feminist precepts as “the personal is political” and have adjusted them according to new contexts. As postmodern subjects working in the wake of modernism—a long century in which the male-dominated spheres of literature and theory upheld “distance” and “disinterestedness” over emotionality or transparent investment— these artists and writers trouble the tenets of both the modernist canon as well as the younger canon of postmodern feminism.
Subject: auto-theory
embodied experience
feminist practice
Type: Abstract
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/33700
Date: 2017-05-15

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