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A Minor Incision: Trans-Disciplinarity and the Discourses of Marginality1

John C. Goshert
Purdue University

In this paper I will sketch out some introductory arguments concerning the possibilities of rereading marginal literary discourses in terms of Deleuze and Guattari’s 1975 treatment of Kafka, Toward a Minor Literature. I propose that such a reading offers provocative possibilities for rethinking the conditions of marginal literatures as they have been erected around notions of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, terms of identity which have, afterward, often become constraining rather than liberating features. In their emergent tradition, these fields have been conceived and treated as sovereign areas of inquiry that have only tangential connections and few common concerns between them. By centering on two authors who have, at best, occupied tenuous positions in their respective fields, I suggest that we may find in a transdisciplinary treatment of these marginal fields a different means of conceiving the political and identificatory concerns that have too often become their points of foreclosure.

Since beginning an extended treatment of Frank Chin’s fiction and criticism a few years ago, I found my work met with significant criticism, which was primarily grounded on the notion that Chin could not be considered in a legitimately construed field of Asian American writing. At the time, I questioned an institutionalized Chinese American literary studies that was conditioned on proprietary limits from which certain authors would be summarily excluded, especially a field that could exclude a writer who, through drama, fiction, and criticism, has treated the manifold concerns of Chinese American identity over the past three decades. When I began researching Sarah Schulman’s work some time later, I found her position in gay-lesbian literary studies surprisingly similar to Chin’s, again despite her numerous novels, critical works, and longstanding commitments to gay-lesbian political concerns and AIDS activism. I then began to consider the terms of field formation generally, especially the ways in which marginal literary studies have, upon their arrival at some level of institutional legitimacy and visibility, all too often practiced the same sort of exclusivity and bordering strategies against which they formed themselves some decades ago in response to an exclusionary, normative notion of proper literature.

Since their official inception in the eighteenth century, literary canons have served a primarily pedagogical role in providing the uneducated, unacculturated, or unassimilated with the literary artifacts that would bring them into a cultural order represented by an established and rarely changing body of texts. That primary role has not changed much—other than cosmetically—with the shift in educational institutions that now attempt to demonstrate notions of cultural diversity or multicultural literacy with the inclusion of marginal literatures. Indeed, as David Palumbo-Liu writes of the pedagogical result of "ethnic canons" that have developed over the past three decades:

Within the specific domain of current uses of multiculturalism within the academy, the reading of ethnic literature may be taken as an occasion for the negotiation of difference, the fusion of horizons, and the "recovery" of equilibrium that creates social subjectivities now "educated" as to the proper negotiations of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. (11) The trope particularly indicative of this movement toward cohesion in marginal discourses is a common nostalgia for clear-cut identity and political positions for its subjects. In Asian American literary studies, this nostalgia manifests itself in an almost universal location of political efficacy in the civil rights movements of the 1950s-60s and the incipient ethnic studies movements of the 1960s and 70s. Filtered through nostalgia, such moments are arrested and mobilized in order to establish a rather stable notion of aesthetic and political efficacy that sees its telos in a singular, celebratory marginality.2 Nostalgia, whether for the return to a fixed notion of political efficacy or to a time before theory complicated marginal self-perception, necessarily forecloses other possibilities for thinking identity. It establishes normative forms of thinking and forms iconic literary and political figures for public consumption that would effectively articulate ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

In many analyses of Asian American literatures, "marginality" became the fundamental component of effective ethnic identity that would oppose or transgress "hegemony." On the institutional strength of a select body of critical discourses, writers have since been selected and either lauded for their depiction of marginality or derided (as Chin is) for their complicity with hegemonic notions of patriarchy, history, and normative American national identity. Accordingly, codes of conduct become internally established in the battle for alternative canon formation, codes that depend on positing their own positively valued transgression from whatever concept of normativity. When a single historical, aesthetic, political, or even gendered movement is established to which all authors should aspire, a "sanctified" temporal space as Rey Chow might say, those codes work to foreclose any further transformative gestures, as they depend on preventing a transgression of their own boundaries or sanctified forms.3 The gradual aestheticization of the ethnic, or otherwise Other subject, in which positionalities of difference are appreciated—rather than interrogated—results in the development of autonomous fields that exercise an unobstructive attraction over their students based on a notion of a universally untranslatable difference (Palumbo-Liu 5).

The fields of women’s studies and gay-lesbian literary studies have often effected similar nostalgic boundaries that constitute proprietary standards of identity for its writers and students. Such boundaries are constructed in opposition to a generally perceived "theory" that has gone too far, and the proponents of protection claim a need for the recuperation of stable concepts of subject positions that can be effectively occupied, both theoretically and politically. Susan Stanford Friedman, for instance, claims that theory—especially theoretical work on identity—must be brought back within the limits it should respect, to reactivate the terms of an essential and therapeutic foundation for feminist criticism. Indeed, Victoria Stagg Elliott offers one explanation for Schulman’s nonarrival to the field in her "lesbian incorrectness," which may be accounted for in Schulman’s rejection of stable identity positions and her refusal to treat solely "lesbian" concerns (517). The philosophical rupture long suggested by poststructuralist or deconstruction-informed feminists—Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, Avital Ronell, Drucilla Cornell, Lauren Berlant—has been met with little engagement in literary fields. As Berlant suggests, in fact, the internally delimiting strategies that now ground a broad range of multicultural studies have been informed by the supposed efficacy of static theoretical and political conceits.4

Offering one possible explanation for this condition, Cary Nelson describes the normalizing features of marginal literary discourses. He suggests that it is due to internal homogenizing forces that "these movements have fallen under the spell of American exceptionalism and made fantasmatic claims to unique redemptive powers. This has made them intolerant of differences of opinion within their own ranks and thus ill suited for dialogue with other versions of feminism and Afro-American studies, let alone other bodies of theory" (20). Marginal areas of literary study first isolate themselves off from the rest of the university, resting in their exceptionality, in the untranslatable difference of Otherness; furthermore, they create an internal foreclosure of debate from within (although often, we should acknowledge, in response to very real institutional pressures), that enacts the semblance of homogeneity before those fields arrive in any sort of public forum. As Nelson continues in Manifesto of a Tenured Radical, an emergent or marginal literature, theory, or philosophy becomes a separate field, "an isolated area of research, a specialization with, paradoxically, no pressing claims on the discipline’s general attention" (21). Marginal fields and their attendant identity politics are thus easily filtered and assimilated into, or simply dismissed by the institution at large with the result in either case of depoliticizing of initially—and necessarily—political ventures into institutionality.

1. Frank Chin

Along with a handful of other writers, such as Hisaye Yamamoto and Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank Chin’s career has traversed the contemporary history of Asian American literature, from its scattered preinstitutional forms to its present—and not inconsiderable—level of institutional visibility and legitimacy. Since the late 1960s, Chin has often posed a critical vision of an historically grounded "authentic" Chinese American identity in its literary history; yet, he has coextensively made moves in his fiction that would undercut the stability of that very identificatory position. The examples of his demand to engage with authentic Chinese and Chinese American history and literature are relatively well cited,5 but the rupture of history as experienced by the characters of his fiction has been curiously elided. To cite an early example of Chin’s double movement, I turn to his first play, The Chickencoop Chinaman of 1971, in which the protagonist, Tam Lum, realizes that, despite his desire to locate a stable ethnic inheritance in genealogy or history, he has no recourse to any legitimate discourse of identity at all. Through the play, Chin first presents a polemic attack on the current status of Chinese and Japanese Americans as they are represented in American popular culture; additionally however, he goes beyond polemics, and simultaneously forms an argument against the separatist-essentialist (especially ethnocentric and gendercentric) moves that were so often at the heart of the politics of marginality during the formative years of ethnic studies.

The play immediately ruptures geographic stability when Lum travels from Oakland, California to stay with his childhood friend, Blackjap Kenji, in a neighborhood of Pittsburgh, which is also called Oakland. On the plane, Lum encounters Hong Kong Dream Girl, "a dream monster from a popular American song of the twenties" (3), who presses him for the story of his birth. After deferring an answer through some pages of dialogue, Lum counters her question: "Born? No! Crashed! Not born. Stamped! Not born! Created! Not born . . . No more born than nylon or acrylic. For I am a Chinaman! A miracle synthetic! Drip dry and machine washable" (8). Afterwards, Dream Girl concludes, "And then you were born" (8), but Lum’s own conclusion is further deferred in claiming a birth that is also death: "Born. Born to talk to Chinaman sons of Chinamen, children of the dead" (8). From this point in Chin’s career, the history of Chinese America has been defined by a moment of naming, the appellation "Chinaman" which has been handed down from a divine source of power and which has come to effectively interpellate the Chinese (-American). Chin’s move, then, is not the countering but the rupture of this interpellation: calling fundamental concepts of history, translation, and ethnicity into question by working through their assumed efficacy, exposing the points at which they fail to cohere. Accordingly, for the American born Chinese like Tam Lum, any actually existing Chinese inheritance is, while omnipresent, paradoxically graspable only in the fleeting traces of literature, architecture, and artifacts in Chinatown, a location that is, itself, neither Chinese nor American, but an alterior, sanctioned site.

As a later hallucinatory scene in the play suggests, the attempt to stabilize Chinese American hybridity invariably results in its relegation to permanent marginality in the ethnic preserve of Chinatown. In his encounter with an aging and drug addicted Lone Ranger, Lum realizes that America desires not the annihilation of, but successful control over Chinese American identity. The Lone Ranger offers a truce to Lum, the price of which is permanent marginality and a rejection of Chinese American history: "kiss my ass, know thou that it be white, and go thou happy in honorary whiteness forever and ever, preservin your culture, AMEN . . . Keep your asses off them long steel rails and crossties . . . lookin for a train of sullen Chinamans, runaways from their place in the American dream . . . the West ain’t big enough for the both of us!" (37-38). The West, as Chin reads it, is only able to accommodate a single concept of identity and must reject, for instance, Chinese American contributions to the material construction of the American West. Although rejecting The Lone Ranger’s offer allows Tam the opportunity to revisit Chinaman history, the cost of that rejection places him in the difficult position of being unidentifiable: he would be neither the ornamental "Asian" who accepts containment in Chinatown nor the deracinated "American" who accepts assimilation. As Chin writes of this illocatable Chinaman identity, it "is neither white European nor Asian Asian in your universe. But . . . from inside the white and Chinese bias, nothing about the Chinaman is obvious" ("This is Not" 117).

2. Sarah Schulman

Like Chin, Sarah Schulman constantly signifies on nostalgic conceits of identity, and offers an explanation of the cultural condition that calls for a resistance of identificatory efficacy. She writes: "we comprise the first generation who does not think that the future will be better. We fear the future. We live in a profound state of nostalgia. Concepts like revolution just become reminders of the impossibility of change . . . We know we won't make a revolution and so now we have to ask ourselves if there is anything else we can do" (My American History 258). Schulman’s sixth novel, Rat Bohemia, best exemplifies her continual provocation of this question. Schulman initially disrupts the now-normative form of lesbian writing by using a gay male narrator, David, in addition to her two lesbian narrators Rita Mae Weems and Killer; furthermore, despite Rita’s sentimental longing for legible and coherent bases for some authentic identity, she ultimately realizes that in the face of AIDS and the rejection of homosexuals by familial and national systems, "There’s no illusion left to let a person feel immune. Invincible is over" (14). As Rita describes her first lesbian sexual experiences, she compares her inheritance of Judaism with an incipient sexual awareness, undercutting any sense of a sexual genealogy through which she could identify: "I don’t care to know what the reason is that I am gay. But when it comes to being a Jew who has only one God, I know for sure that I was born that way" (12). As the child of a Holocaust survivor, Rita is faced from an early age with the rapidly vanishing remainder of one attempted cultural and ethnic purge, and the impending contemporary extermination of gay men— due to the multiple social, political, immunopathological causes which coalesce into "AIDS"—resonates with Rita and positions her as the historian of her generation.

Despite her inherited and ongoing relationship with declining communities, Rita occupies a complex position between the simultaneous recognition of devastated identificatory positions grounded in sexuality and the desire to occupy some coherent site in which she could become legitimately visible and legible. As Rita’s best friend, Killer, notes later in the novel, American nationality is perhaps the most difficult of identificatory positions to abandon. Killer and her lover, Troy Ruby discuss the ways in which nationality could provide the limit of proper identity, a certain safety, as Troy realizes when she reflects on the Queer Nation movement:

"Queer did get old very fast, nowadays only academics take it seriously. But Nation managed to live on in many fond conversions. Transgender Nation, Alien Nation, Reincar Nation. And all along the line no one noticed how much that word echoed with the secret store of nostalgic desire for normalcy, normalcy, normalcy. Those apple pie, warm kitchens and American flags that are trapped somewhere back there between the hypothalamus and the frontal lobe. Someplace in the Central Drawer where One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice For All resonates eternally. And that is why Nation is ultimately such a comforting word" (111-12). Largely due to the omnipresence of AIDS in their Lower East Side community, the immediate intimacy of death in many communities—most explicitly for Schulman among gay and homeless people, women and the poor—former models of identity and history on which their definitions of American life have been dependent fall out of order. Ethnicity and nationality remain critical in Rita’s assessment of the AIDS epidemic, and, connecting her childhood memory of Holocaust survivors with her contemporary experience with people with AIDS is a question of visibility. She recognizes the changes in relationships between ethnic groups since her childhood, that the "psychological divide" between groups seems to have disappeared. She suggests, however, that perhaps this divide has not so much eroded, but has instead shifted to protect heterosexuals from homosexuals; although marginal ethnic groups have reached some level of public visibility or recognition (the growing acknowledgement of Holocaust survivors since the late 1960s for instance), the public separation of homosexuals from heterosexuals is increasingly legitimated (and, in significant instances, legislated) in the 1980s and 1990s.

The majority of Schulman’s characters similarly address the call toward a concept of transcendence held to what she calls "a standard based on the model of religious conversion" (My American 237), as defined through sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Particularly, the images and experiences of gay life are not stable forms that can be infinitely repeated and remain, if not adequate, then capable of doing significant work toward exposing homosexuality as something beyond replicatory Otherness. Popular conceptions of homosexuality, such as Jonathan Larson’s Rent result, Schulman argues, in a condition in which "the existence of most Americans is no longer being denied. Instead it is presented within a context that seductively normalizes the fact of people's lives without actually addressing any of their special needs" (107). We read popularly (and at times, it should be said, academically) sanctioned lesbian literature in a state of comfortable stability; as Schulman writes of a new visibility for gay theatre, literature, and film: "art that exposes uncomfortable truths is diminished for being didactic, while art that presents a false veneer of comfort is considered neutral and promoted" (Stagestruck 146). The most uncomfortable of the truths that Schulman addresses, and that may account for her limited arrival to the field of lesbian or women’s literature, is that identity, whether grounded in gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, is ultimately inarticulable in normative terms.6 Indeed, she notes that the era of AIDS and a culture of identity-as-lifestyle is "filled with pumped-up distortions . . . [while] the real truths are always in flux and hard to depict" (My American 24).

Ruptured Genealogy: A Minor Conversation

I suggest that what connects Chin and Schulman, both formally and thematically, is a sense of constant deterritorialization: specifically, a resistance to positioning marginal identity in safe spaces of alterity. In our present treatment, as each author poses numerous failed attempts to trace locate histories of identity, whether through ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or even nationality, the very possibility of a stable site on which marginality could rest is irreparably cut through. In this common theme, we may read in Deleuze and Guattari’s tripartite description of minor literature resonant presentations of "living in a language that is not their own" (19); treatments of "the connection of the individual to a political immediacy" (18); and finally, a "collective assemblage of enunciation" rather than clearly defined and delimited marginal subjectivities (18). Beyond this rubric though, I am struck by the disciplinary implications of Deleuze and Guattari in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, in their demand for a constant revisiting and critical rereading of those authors who have been prematurely foreclosed by a history of criticism (whether "dominant" or "marginal") that is itself dependent on territorialization. The cases of both Chin and Schulman point to broader critiques of what Schulman recently recognized as "a narrow range of ideas presented as a broad range of ideas, that has come to be known as ‘tolerance’" (Stagestruck 102). Tolerance evokes a sense of comfort; it presents cases or classes like "being lesbian" or "being Chinese American" as already saturated concepts that are allowed to become a subset of a meta-case of normative subjectivity. This sense of being at home in one’s marginality is, however, rendered irreparable by minor writing, which refuses such a gesture of inclusive generosity.7

A significant part of this generosity is the establishment of marginal fields of literature in which (much as Chin writes of Chinatown), preserves of ethnic, gender, and sexual identities are created and stabilized, legitimated within larger institutional structures. Rather than replicating such structures by arguing for a replacement of one legitimate writing with another, we may turn to minor literature as a means of rethinking—rupturing—discourses of tolerance. In their treatment of Kafka, Deleuze and Guattari write that such literatures offer deterritorialized other possible communities of language use (17), and furthermore, radically delimited other possible identities. These possibilities are, most significantly, not subject to the sort of celebratory limitations offered by institutional structures of marginality; rather, they "exist only as diabolical powers to come" (18). Thus, in the face of foreclosure, the dream of becoming major, which coalesces around whatever salvational conditions of identity, minor literature "create[s] the opposite dream: know how to create a becoming-minor" (27). Becoming minor cannot be limited to singular articulations of discipline, any more than it can be limited by singular notions of individual identity.8 Any identity machine, whether individual or disciplinary, may be subjected to a disarticulation and constant movement of reorganizing its most dearly held forms.

Thus, the double writing of each author, that movement between discourses of authenticity and the simultaneous rupture of those very discourses, is indicative of minor—rather than marginal—writing. Furthermore, a sense of reading that is informed by minor, or generally poststructuralist, discourses offers a means of double reading that works with but is not limited by institutional and already foreclosed constructions of individual fields and disciplinarity.9 If, as Derrida states in Positions, "the motif of homogeneity, the theological motif par excellence, is decidedly the one to be destroyed" (63-64), we risk the devastation of our protected and safe marginal spaces, yet simultaneously propose the release of other possibilities unconstrained by disciplinarity. The incision I propose on the body of these disciplines, which have largely accepted the conditions of standardization required for the broad dissemination of their representative works, will provide an opening of possibilities for marginal literary studies that have only rarely been pursued. In the nostalgia for some originary sense of identity that would provide the reparative gesture toward systems of domination, oppression, marginalization, Chin and Schulman present critiques of identity that cannot be contained by disciplinary structures, and they have, for the most part, remained on the margins of these marginal discourses. We tacitly locate a different possibility for reading those authors who remain curiously absent from their respective fields in a minor movement that would resist confining readings not only within stable terms of marginality, but furthermore in singular notions of any marginal group’s desired political efficacy, or in the desire for institutional permanence.

References

Agamben, Giorgio. The Coming Community. Trans. Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.

Berlant, Lauren. "’68, or Something." Critical Inquiry 21 (1994): 124-55.

Brinker, Ludger. "The Bat Mitzvah of American-Jewish Lesbian Fiction: Newman, Katz, and Felman." Studies in American Jewish Literature 13 (1994): 72-84.

Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Chicago Cultural Studies Group. "Critical Multi-culturalism." Critical Inquiry 18 (1992): 530-55.

Chin, Frank. The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon: Two Plays by Frank Chin. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1981.

Chin, Frank. "This is not an Autobiography." Genre 18 (1985): 109-30.

Chow, Rey. Writing Diaspora. Bloomington: U of Indiana P, 1993.

Chu, Patricia. "Tripmaster Monkey, Frank Chin, and the Chinese Heroic Tradition" Arizona Quarterly 53.3 (1997): 117-39.

Davis, Angela. "Afro Images: Politics, Fashion, and Nostalgia." Critical Inquiry 21 (1994): 37-45.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986.

Derrida, Jacques. Positions. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1981.

Kaplan, Caren. "Deterritorializations: The Rewriting of Home and Exile in Western Feminist Discourse." The Nature and Context of Minority Discourse. Ed. Abdul R. JanMohammed and David Lloyd. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990. 357-68.

Kim, Elaine: "Such Opposite Creatures: Men and Women in Asian American Literature." Michigan Quarterly 29 (1990): 68-93.

Li, David Leiwei. "The Formation of Frank Chin and Formations of Chinese American Literature." Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives. Ed. Shirley Hune, et. al. Pullman: Washington State UP, 1991.

Ling, Jinqi. "Identity Crisis and Gender Politics: Reappropriating Asian American Masculinity." An Interethnic Guide to Asian American Literature. Ed. King-Kok Cheung. New York: Cambridge, 1997. 312-37.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Inoperative Community. Trans. Peter Connor et al. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1991.

Nelson, Cary. Manifesto of a Tenured Radical. New York: NYU P, 1997.

Schulman, Sarah. My American History. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Schulman, Sarah. Rat Bohemia. New York: Plume, 1997.

Schulman, Sarah. Stagestruck. Durham: Duke UP, 1999.

Stanford Friedman, Susan. "Post/Poststructuralist Feminist Criticism." New Literary History 22 (1991): 465-90.

Endnotes

1The present version of this paper contains significant revisions from its original presentation at the conference, Rethinking the Human Sciences, at George Washington University in April, 2000. I thank Richard Dienst and Arkady Plotnitsky for their assistance in developing this project.

2See, for instance, Maxine Hong Kingston’s 1991 essay on the 1989 Tienanmen Square demonstrations, "Violence and Non-Violence in China." Most important to our present discussion, Kingston locates the efficacy, and furthermore the inherent legitimacy of the demonstrators in a stable and uncritically nostalgic account of the American civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s and 1970s. This distinction should come as no surprise, since historically, the longstanding proprietary battle between Chin and Kingston over Chinese American literature has provided the common locus from which Chin’s wholesale rejection from, and Kingston’s hypercanonization in the field has been effected.

3Nostalgia is especially worth working over in an era which finds the 1960s and 1970s mobilized as sites to be emptied of all political and/or social meaning. As Angela Davis writes, when she went underground in 1970, she disguised herself by using glamorous props: "it seemed to me that glamour was the only look that might annul the likelihood of being perceived as a revolutionary" (41). Almost twenty-five years later, however, the image that accounted for her automatic criminality becomes simply one of many ways to market a new glamour in 1994. Davis continues: "It never could have occurred to me that the same ‘revolutionary’ image I then sought to camouflage with glamour would be turned, a generation later, into glamour and nostalgia" (41). Ultimately, Davis argues, when it is filtered through nostalgia, "the particular history of [her] legal case is emptied of all content so that it can serve as a commodified backdrop for advertising" (43).

4Berlant writes in "Critical Multiculturalism," which appeared under the joint authorship of the Chicago Cultural Studies Group: "Multicultural studies is vulnerable at this juncture not only because of the reactionary attack on it in the popular press, but because of the weaknesses in its own rhetoric: an overreliance on the efficacy of theory; a false voluntarism about political engagement; an unrecognized assumption of civil-society conditions; a tendency to limit grounds of critique to a standardized brace of minoritized identities (for example, race, class, and gender); and a forgetfulness about how its terms circulate in "Third World" contexts, which are often expected to provide raw material for integration in Western visions of multicultural pluralism" (532).

5See, for instance, Kim’s "Such Opposite Creatures" (1990), King-Kok Cheung’s Articulate Silences (1993), Jinqi Ling’s "Identity Crisis and Gender Politics" (1997), and David Lewei Li’s "The Formation of Frank Chin and Formations of Chinese American Literature" (1991). For the most part, as Vishal Khanna recently suggested, the critical treatment of Chin has followed a "footnote theory of Frank Chin, [the] common trend of critics to say something denigrating about [Chin], and for proof, cite another critic." See Patricia Chu’s "Tripmaster Monkey, Frank Chin, and the Chinese Heroic Tradition" as one of the best examples of this trend.

6I think of, especially, Ludger Brinker’s "The Bat Mitzvah of American-Jewish Lesbian Fiction," in which Schulman merits mention surprisingly because she is among "those lesbian writers of Jewish descent who choose not to be publicly identified as Jews . . . whose five published novels . . . are not very specifically Jewish in content" (81).

7Caren Kaplan has addressed the possibilities offered by Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of minority in terms of feminist writing, and crucially, feminist writing that interrogates the interstices of broadly construed terms such as "feminism" and other complicating identificatory components of class and ethnicity. Unlike the rather stable structures of ethnically and sexually marginal writing that are constructed on terms of effectively marginal languages, Kaplan claims that deterritorialized writing is necessarily risky: "it has the potential to lock the subject away in isolation and despair as well as the potential for critical innovation and particular strengths" (357). Indeed, the crucial question for Kaplan becomes, following Deleuze and Guattari, one of accepting risk, of letting go those stabilizing structures of both margin and center: "Who dares let go of their respective representations and systems of meaning, their identity politics and theoretical homes . . .?" (361). This is precisely the question to which our marginal literary fields have been increasingly resistant as they become permanent homes for singularly articulated minority voices within the larger institutional space of the university.

8Lauren Berlant notes this necessity to rethink the restrictive structure of disciplinarity in "’68, or Something," in which she addresses similar possibilities of becoming minor. She writes that in the competitive system in which each "marginal" area struggles for dominance (in the form of funding, prestige, etc.): "the real challenges facing us institutionally are to challenge the world of established disciplines whose oppressive and violently partial forms of order produced the counterhegemonic formalism of minority knowledge in the first place" (131).

9See Nancy (8-11).

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