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The Limitations of a Somatics of Resistance: Sexual Performativity and Gender Dissidence in Dickens's Dombey and Son

  This essay considers some of the implications of a critical turn from a concern with a 'political technology of the body' in the Foucauldian sense to one with embodied micropractices. I will contend here that a critique of social experiences that is conceptualised through attention to individualised, or intersubjective, corporeal practices, is necessarily limited. A critical focus on the affective or performative self potentially colludes with a political agenda that privileges the bourgeois concept of individuality over that of collectivity, and performative micropractices over the transformation of social relationships on a structural level. This article approaches these issues by investigating two forms of sexual deviance, enacted by the figures of Paul and Edith Dombey, in Dombey and Son - a text that explores the problematic of nineteenthcentury gender-specific discipline and resistance, but also a narrative that points to the conceptual limitations resulting from individualised notions of embodiment and embodied resistance. I will suggest that this novel codes Paul and Edith's resistance to Dombey's regime of gender-discipline as specifically physical and sexualised forms of deviance.

  • Type:

    Article

  • Date:

    01 January 2005

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • Publisher

    Berghahn Journals

  • DOI:

    10.3167/001115705781004514

  • ISSN:

    0011-1570

  • Library of Congress:

    PN0080 Criticism

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    305 Social groups

Citation

Schwan, A. (2005). The Limitations of a Somatics of Resistance: Sexual Performativity and Gender Dissidence in Dickens's Dombey and Son. Critical Survey, 17(2), (92-106). doi:10.3167/001115705781004514. ISSN 0011-1570

Authors

Keywords

Literature and Literary Theory; Cultural Studies

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