Rewriting Politics, or the Emerging Fourth Wave of Feminism in Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments

  • Oana Celia Gheorghiu "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati
  • Michaela Praisler "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati
Keywords: feminism, women's writing, politics, The Handmaid's Tale, sequel, Margaret Atwood

Abstract

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) has recently returned to the spotlight with the success of its TV adaptation and with her decision to deliver a sequel. Speculative fiction invites speculative criticism; in this spirit, this paper investigates The Testaments (2019), tracing the rewriting of politics embedded in the narrative. Whilst the inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale came from the rise of Christian fundamentalism, it is obvious from Atwood’s more recent statements that she considers the Trump era “a rollback of women’s rights” (2018). The slogan of second-wave feminists, ‘the personal is political,’ is now as topical as it was in the 1960s, and The Testaments may well become a literary manifesto of a new (fourth) wave as part of the storm surge of feminism. Therefore, before turning to Atwood, an outline of the chronological clashes of feminism(s) and a discussion on women and language is presented. This is followed by an examination of the three main characters and representatives of ideas.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Atwood, Margaret. (1985) 2010. The Handmaid’s Tale. London: Vintage.

—. 2019a. The Testaments. London: Vintage.

—. 2019b. “Margaret Atwood: For a long time we were moving away from Gilead.” Interview by Lisa Allardice. The Guardian, September 20, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/sep/20 /margaret-atwood-moving-away-from-gilead-testaments.

Barthes, Roland. 1967. “The Death of the Author.” Translated by Richard Howard. Aspen: The Magazine in a Box 5+6. http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen5and6/threeEssays.html#barthes.

Baumgardner, Jennifer. 2011. F’EM! Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls. Berkeley: Seal Press.

Chamberlain, Prudence. 2017. The Feminist Fourth Wave. Affective Temporality. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cixous, Hélène. 1976. “The Laugh of the Medusa.” Translated by Keith and Paula Cohen. Signs 1 (4): 875–93. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3173239.

—. 1986. “Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/Forays ~ Introduction, Katarzyna Marciniak.” In The Newly Born Woman, by Hélène Cixous, Catherine Clement and Betsy Wing, 63–130. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Enright, Anne. 2019. “The Testaments by Margaret Atwood review: A dazzling follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale.” The Guardian, September 10, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/sep/10/the -testaments-by-margaret-atwood-review.

Faludi, Susan. 2006. Backlash. The Undeclared War against American Women. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Friedan, Betty. 2001. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Genz, Stephanie, and Benjamin Brabon. 2009. Postfeminism: Cultural Texts and Theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Halberstam, J. J. 2012. Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal. Massachusetts: Beacon Press.

Hemmings, Clare. 2011. Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist Theory. Durham: Duke University Press.

Howells, Coral Ann. 2003. “Margaret Atwood’s Dystopian Visions: The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake.” In The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood, edited by Coral Ann Howells, 161–75. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joyce, James. 2010. Ulysses. London: Wordsworth Classics.

Praisler, Michaela, and Oana Gheorghiu. 2019. “The Art and Politics of Rewriting. Margaret Atwood’s ‘Historical Notes on the Handmaid’s Tale.’” Cultural Intertexts VI (9): 171–81.

Rivers, Nicola. 2017. Postfeminism(s) and the Arrival of the Fourth Wave. Turning Tides. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Shakespeare, William. 2007. Macbeth. In Shakespeare’s Tragedies, edited by David Bevington, 1255–92. New York: Pearson Longman.

Vick, Karl. 2017. “Perhaps the Largest Protest in US History Was Brought to You by Trump.” Time, January 26, 2017. https://time.com/4649891/protest-donald-trump/.

Published
2020-05-28
How to Cite
GheorghiuO. C., & PraislerM. (2020). Rewriting Politics, or the Emerging Fourth Wave of Feminism in Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 17(1), 87-96. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.17.1.87-96
Section
Articles