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Gudrun Ankele

If we consider to read Olympe de Gouges' appropriation of the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, published as Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne on September 14, 1791, as first feminist manifesto, what kind of poetological effects does that have on a discussion of the manifesto as genre?

Since this symbolical act, women have been using the genre of the manifesto to articulate their disagreements (cf. Jacques Rancière, Disagreement, 1998), to formulate emancipatorical subjectivities, utopias and guidelines how to realize those in a new reality. Throughout the long 19th century, women were neither allowed to speak politically nor to act in the political field in the same way it was possible for a great number of male citizens. What does it mean to speak in a form of language which is not supposed to be used by the speaker?

In my contribution I want to focus on Olympe de Gouges' above mentioned Déclaration, on the speech Ain't I a woman? held by Afroamerican former slave Sojourner Truth in 1851, as well as on the radical manifesto by Austrian Philosopher Helene Druskowitz, Pessimistische Kardinalsätze - Ein Vademecum für die freiesten Geister, published in 1905 after having spent eighteen years in psychiatric wards and calling for an absolute "Endesende" of mankind after a short period of an exclusive "Cité des dames". How can these manifestos and their specific poetic engender the political? How can their reading contribute to a contemporary understanding of feminism as agonistic theory and practice of communication and interaction?

SvD, February 2009

  • Conferences > NEWW international conferences > Bochum 2009 > Ankele

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