A Foucauldian Response to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
The Subaltern Can Speak in The Penelopiad
This paper intends to analyse how Penelope in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad deconstructs The Odyssey with specific references to Gayatri C. Spivak’s “Can The Subaltern Speak?” from a Foucauldian perspective. Spivak has been criticized by many critics and writers because of her insistence on the impossibility of the subaltern to speak. This paper aims to display how the subaltern, unlike what Spivak has suggested, can speak, show resistance and take the initiative in the process of reconstructing their identities in The Penelopiad in the light of Foucault’s ideas on power, resistance and discourse. Although Penelope has been established as a submissive, subordinate and chaste wife, she proves to be a practical and pragmatic woman and creates her own opportunities to reject her imposed subalternity to assert herself through her voice and action. In this sense, Atwoods’s novel can be read as the deconstruction of Homer’s Oddyssey and Spivak’s theory about the impossibility for the subaltern to be heard and recognized. Foucault’s theory on the relation between power and subject is more inspiring and promising for the subaltern.
Atwood, Margaret. (2002). Negotiating with the dead. A writer on writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bottez, Monica. (2012). Another Penelope: Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad. University of Bucharest Review, vol. XIV, 1,49-56.
Bracke, Sarah. (2016). Is the subaltern resilient? Notes on agency and neoliberal subjects.Cultural Studies, vol. 30, 5, 839-855.
Cooke, Nathalie. (2004). Margaret Atwood: A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood.
Çelebi, Barbara D. (2016). Penelope's Daughters. University of Nebreska.
Devadas, Vijay and Nicholls, Brett.(2002). Postcolonial interventions: Gayatri Spivak, three wise men and the native informant.Critical Horizons,3,73-101.
Foucault, Michel. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, vol. 8, 4,777-795.
Frye, Northrop.(1957). Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gramsci, Antonio.(1995). The Southern Question. (P. Verdicchio, Trans.). Berkley CA: Bordighera Press.
Hengen, Shannon. (2008). Staging Penelope: Margaret Atwood’s changing audience. In Sarah A. Appleton (Ed.), Once upon a time: myth, fairy tales and legends in Margaret Atwood’s writings(pp. 47-57). Cambridge Scholars.
Howells, Coral A. (2008). ‘We can’t help but be modern’: The Penelopiad. In Sarah A. Appleton (Ed.), Once upon a time: myth, fairy tales and legends in Margaret Atwood’s writings (pp. 57-73). Cambridge Scholars.
Howells, Coral Ann. (2006). The Cambridge companion to Margaret Atwood. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Hutcheon, Linda. (1985). A theory of parody. The teachings of twentieth-century art forms. London and New York: Methuen.
Hutheon, Linda. (1988). A poetics of postmodernism. History, theory, fiction. London and New York: Routledge.
Macpherson, H. S. (2010). The Cambridge introduction to Margaret Atwood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maggio, J. (2007). ‘Can the subaltern be heard?’: Political theory, translation, representation, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Alternatives, 32,419–443.
Morris, R.(Ed.). (2010).Can the subaltern speak?: Reflections on the history of an idea.New York: Columbia University Press.
Nunes, Ruan. (2014). Looking into Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: Appropriation, parody and class issues. Palimpsesto, vol. 18, 13, 228–240.
Peneau, Emilie. (2012). ‘Strong myths never die’: Margaret Atwood’s subversion of myth in The Tent. In Jose M. L. Goya and Marta Ochoa(Eds.), Myth and subversion in the contemporary novel (253–265). Cambridge Scholars.
Rich, Adrienne. (1972). When we dead awaken: writing as re-vision.College English,vol. 34, 1, 18-30.
Spivak, Gayatri. (2013). The Spivak Reader: Selected works of Gayati Chakravorty Spivak. Routledge.
Spivak, Gayatri. (1994). Can the subaltern speak? In P. Williams and L. Chrismas. (Eds). Colonial discourse and postcolonial theory(pp. 66-111). Columbia University Press: New York.
Staels, Hilde. (2009). The Penelopiad and Weight. Contemporary parodic and burlesque transformations of classical myths. College Literature, vol. 36, 4, 100–118.
Suzuki, Mihoko. (2007). Rewriting the ‘Odyssey’ in the twenty-first century: Mary Zimmerman's ‘Odyssey’ and Margaret Atwood’s ‘Penelopiad.’ College Literature, vol. 34, 263–278.
Widdowson, Peter. (2006). Writing back: Contemporary re-visionary fiction.Textual Practice, vol. 20, 3,491-507.
Wilson, Sharon Rose. (1993). Margaret Atwood’s fairy-tale sexual politics. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press.
Wilson, Sharon Rose. (2003). Margaret Atwood’s textual assassinations: Recent poetry
and fiction. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with Journal of Narrarive and Language Studies (NALANS) agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in NALANS.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in NALANS.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.