Our Promiscuity


That could be an interesting topic, but in this case I mean something academic.  In doing some rudimentary thinking about a paper I have to give in a month, I’ve been thinking about the theory of reading for which Susan David Bernstein coined the term “promiscuous identification.”  What it means, really, as it is applied in various places, is a reading practice that too reductively collapses the actually unbridgeable distance between the fictional subject/speaker and the author, between the fictional and historical subject or world, or possibly between the fictional speaker/subject and the reader herself or himself, making a holistic identification that overlooks or ignores the actual noncoincidence of the two.  ED is such a fascinating figure as The Myth of Amherst, and so many readings of her work seek biographical parallels– maybe due to the tendency I mentioned by Shanea’s Bridge post, that the privacy of her life makes us assume there is no external, is no public or theoretical, that comes into play.  I guess what I’m struggling with is wanting us to avoid the traps of promiscuous identification or of shallow biographical interpretations but also not to pretend that the lyrics exist in a pure isolation as mere artifacts of beauty.  This is a hard line to walk, isn’t it?



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