The Higher Education Bubble: Feminist Postmodern Literary Criticism, Ph.D.

Barb Wire

The following specimen of decadent uselessness was produced by Laura Alexander, “a PhD candidate in English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her scholarly interests include Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, feminist theory, and women’s writing, and her research typically leads her to take interdisciplinary approaches to literature in her writing”:

In “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous proposes l’ecriture feminine as a model that allows feminine desire, the language of the body, to reconstitute expression as a revolutionary movement against the masculine rhetorical structure that has defined language over time. . . .

Because feminine writing represents expression not only as writing but also as lived experience through the recreation of and through the body, I am focusing on Cixous’s model of a multidimensional being free from the constraints imposed on her through time. By employing female sexuality as a new feminine rhetoric, Cixous seeks to project expression through the image of the medusa, which symbolizes both feminine writing and feminism as a cultural, political, and linguistic movement. Just as the serpents on the medusa’s head reject the Freudian location of heterosexual feminine desires as active to passive sexual desire, so too must the many female selves (the metaphorical serpents unleashed) spread in diverse directions for fluid, feminine expression. . . .

Rather than phallocentric language that proposes lack as a perpetual human state, feminine writing offers woman a means to articulate the inner, silent she. As Cixous exhorts women to write the body, she argues that woman’s writing will redraw the politics of pleasure, allowing woman to release her many selves. These multiple selves correspond to the metaphoric snakes on the medusa’s head, also erogenous zones of the body, which cannot be liberated in a phallocentric system because they engender fear in “the abyss” that the “two horrifying myths” of castration and loss imply. . . .

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Whereas “masculine sexuality gravitates around the penis,” female sexuality roves in “immense astral space not organized around any one sun” . . . Just so with feminine writing, which laughs through the medusa head and its discursive parts at language that imposes form on the formless. Unorganized through male dominated forms, the woman as medusa is woman as giver, no longer a commodity in a masculine economy but creative of “life, thought, [and] transformation” . . . The reconstitution of feminine writing and the female relationship with the male displaces Lacan’s Symbolic formulation of the dominating phallus because it possesses no order, no fixed binary. . . .

The whole thing is over 4,000 words, if you care to escape “the masculine rhetorical structure that has defined language over time” and enter the vortex of madness that is postmodern feminism.

First published at

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Robert Stacy McCain
Robert Stacy McCain is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in the news business. He is a correspondent for The American Spectator, editor-in-chief at Viral Read and blogs at

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