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|Title: ||再探「新女性」--- 城市空間、商品文化、物質身體和世紀末倫敦小說|
|Other Titles: ||'The New Woman' Revisited---Urban Space, Commodity Culture, Material Body and Some Fin De Siecle 'New Woman' Novels|
|Issue Date: ||2012-11-16|
|Abstract: ||經過1970 年代女性主義學者的強力塑造，19 世紀末興起的「新女性」文學和現象向來被視為首重政治和社會議題，如女性投票權、婚姻制度、女性教育權，以及反娼妓、道德淨化運動等，「新女性」自己則多是受過良好教育、具有強烈政治意識、引領先鋒的中上階級女性，她們往往舉止男性化、戴著眼鏡、鄙夷時尚和消費文化，以上流社會的社交聽、俱樂部或學院為基地，自視不同於或超越絕大部分盲目沈溺和享樂於商品文化、缺乏政治意識的中下階級女性。「新女性」文學似乎往往注重於「室內」題材，批判維多利亞的兩性雙重標準，批判女性在婚姻和家庭中的弱勢地位，但其對維多利亞性別「隔離領域」本身的批判，似乎著重於政治層面，反而相對忽視日常生活的經歷層面，其對女性自由涉足於城市公共空間必須是新女性自我塑造之重要一環的強調，也似乎是相當缺乏。不過本研究意圖指出，「新女性」這個概念其實相當複雜，也歷經演變過程，儘管稍早「新女性」的形象確實有如上特色，在接近世紀之交的文本中，「新女性」已漸漸演變成一個在城市公共空間裡遊走自如、且打扮時尚、絕不摒棄身體的都市女子形象。「新女性」和商品文化之間具有多重關係，她既要追求理性消費、又開懷享受商品文化帶來的各種視覺和感官的樂趣，以即因參與商品文化而帶來的更大空間自由；女性主義日漸借用商品文化的醒目視覺效果來宣導理想，而「新女性」自己也將投入商品化的文學市場和大眾媒體，和女性自立和獨立劃上等號。仔細觀察這世紀末風起雲湧、議題繁雜的「新女性」文學，不難發現「新女性」概念的演變，以及她和城市公共空間及現代商品文化的複雜關係。最近七、八年來英美文評家對「新女性」文學的研究又開始聚焦(Ardis, Heilmann 1998, 2000, 2004, Ledger, Nelson, Vadillo)，大致都將「新女性」文學置於世紀末豐富文化的脈絡裡，強調其和各種現代文化和社會論述的互動和影響，本研究則特別強調「新女性」文學和現代城市空間和商品文化的密切聯繫，以及試圖顛覆早期研究對「新女性」文學過於單一的解讀。本研究計畫以兩年時間，探索世紀之交時期的「新女性」小說，這其中包含男性作家寫作的較為著名的以「新女性」為主角的小說，如George Gissing』s The Odd Women, H. G. Wells』Ann Veronica, 還有「新女性」作家自己寫作的「新女性」小說，如Ella Hepsworth Dixon』s The Story of a Modern Woman, Sarah Grand』s Ideala, and Amy Levy』s The Romance of a Shop。不管是男性作家或是新女性作家自己，或是女性主義者和反女性主義者，都難免有將「新女性」小說視作政治工具的意圖，這其中，女性作家的作品顯然較男性作家更富同情，但後者卻因傳統上被視為文學技巧純熟，而在影響力上遠較被視為技巧較弱、過於「說教」(Elaine Showalter) 的「新女性」作家要來得重要。其實仔細觀察這兩種文本，都不難發現其本身充斥相當複雜、不同甚或矛盾的聲音，遠不是簡單將它們歸為「保守反動」或是「進步」所能涵蓋。這些作品儘管有不同角度，但卻都反映出，在世紀之交的「新女性」和現代城市空間的互動上已出現和稍早時期的不同，本研究試圖不再將「新女性」因政治意識不同而明確強調其和多數普通女性的區別，反而試圖指出，「新女性」自己也日漸將自由行走於倫敦城市公共空間視為挑戰既有傳統規範的重要一環，而展現健康身體慾望、享受感官「胃口」，不僅是對傳統維多利亞女性模範的挑戰，也是區分於早期女性主義在社會淨化運動中摒棄身體、強調女性道德和精神純潔的主張。另一方面，普通女性，尤其是新一代的年輕中下階層女性，雖非為「新女性」的政治主張追隨者，卻也在日常生活層面日漸將其主張轉化成個人爭取更大行動自由的要求，「新女性」和大多數普通女性間的界線也就日漸模糊。因此，欲更深瞭解女性的都市現代化經歷，進而瞭解都市現代化的錯綜意義，必須仔細探討「新女性」文學及其勾畫的「新女性」在日常生活層面的經歷。本計畫規劃兩年進行。第一年以「新女性」的公共空間移動性為主，探討其做為都市乘客不斷移動於現代城市的商品化公共空間之中，並嫻熟利用城市現代大眾機械化交通工具。世紀末的倫敦，已是集各種大眾交通如公車、電車、地鐵、火車於一體的大都市，許多重要路線都穿越倫敦商業和消費中心，加上票價便宜，每天坐車通勤、購物、逛街已是普通人生活的一環，便利的大眾交通更是對女性獨自的行動自由有推波助瀾的效果。在十九世紀中期的巴黎，波德萊爾就已經寫出詩人在穿越熱鬧的馬路時掉落桂冠，卻因四面交通齊擁而不敢彎腰撿起、倉皇落逃的詩句─ ─「死神從四面八方向我奔騰而至」(Baudelaire 94)，到了世紀末的倫敦，交通更加壅塞，機械化移動(mechanized mobility)更加普遍。正如唯美派詩人Arthur Symons 所言，「現在還有人走路嗎？倫敦很快就看不見人了，除了機器之外什麼都不會有。」對遊移於現代倫敦的商品化和機械化空間的「新女性」來說，她不再只是行走者，更是一個乘客，以更快的機械協助的速度移動於城市空間，其本身在商品和機器的浸淫也就更深。「新女性」自己也開始投入商品文化，不管是以開店(The Romance of a Shop, The Odd Women)、以僱員和消費者之姿(Ideala)，或是投入商品化的文學及媒體市場(The Story of a Modern Woman)，其和商品文化的關係更加複雜。在本文所提的「新女性」文本中，這種新環境對新女性的制約更為強大，往往反映在文本裡各種挫折、失望的心情描述，現實和「新女性」滿腔理想間的牽制拉鋸，但另一方面，文本又將「新女性」使用機器的移動能力、以及浸淫商品文化所帶來的更大空間及更大風險，視作緊密相關於「新女性」獨立自我的建構，不管多大挫折、也不願回復到傳統更為舒適、卻備極依賴和限制的在室女生活，這種聲音，確實強烈躍然紙上。因此本研究的第一年，計畫通過這些文本來仔細探討「新女性」和商品化、機械化城市空間的錯綜關係，如何促進抑或壓制女性主體的建構。本研究第二年計畫以身體為中心議題。十九世紀女性主義者為爭取反娼妓和道德淨化運動的成功，往往將男性的低下身體需求和女性的所謂道德和性慾超越作對比，過於強調某種女性無性慾或是排斥身體的形象。其實這種論點通過強調某種犧牲自我為本質的女性特質，強調女性在滿足和養育他人而得到的幸福，遠大於承認自身有各種慾望進而滿足該慾望所得到的幸福，這種論點，反而強化了維多利亞父權架構對男女不同性行為準則的規範，進而也對以此規範而建立的「室內崇拜」(cult of domesticity)和性別分離領域的意識型態反而起到推波助瀾的效用。但是仔細觀察世紀末「新女性」小說，可以發現「新女性」角色其實是承迎以及愉悅於各種身體慾望、「胃口」、具有飽滿身體的女性形象，她們全方位運作、置於前景的身體，感受商品化城市空間的各種感官撩撥和刺激，也享受和滿足飲食、消費等各種慾望，甚至對身體的女性性慾也充滿好奇(Ann Veronica)， 這點和傳統維多利亞女性模式裡的仕女般克制或遮掩或挨餓相當不同(The Odd Women), 也不同於稍早女性主義者對身體的摒棄，而這種對身體欲求的體認和承迎，又是和「新女性」穿越城市公共空間的能力和經歷息息相關（Ideala）。物質身體是個多元符號，既受各種性別、階級等因素牽制，本身又具有演繹性質、並非一個全然被動、等待描寫的被動場域，仔細探討新女性小說中身體和商品化城市空間的錯綜互動，也是必不可少的重要環節。|
The New Woman as a literary representation and journalistic myth has been traditionally constructed as well-educated, socially privileged upper-middle-class women in the last years of the 19th century who radicalized political issues like the vote for women, marriage and maternity, social and moral purification and education and employment for women. Such radicalism seems to have been predicated upon the New Women』s political and social agitations and vanguardism, their distance from the bulk of non-political, less well-educated middle-class and lower-middle-class women, and their more or less disdain for or disapproval of the pleasure-inducing, 「irrational」mass commodity culture that played on the visual and sensual desires of the bulk of enthusiastically participating ordinary women. Often emphasized for her bookish, mannish, bespectacled, physically emaciated appearance, her disdain for fashion and dress and her membership of the 「shrieking sisterhood」, the New Woman is seen to wage her battle mostly in the confines of the upper-class drawing room or club, the cloistered courts of the women-admitting colleges or the occasional political rallies in the public street, and is not normally linked on an everyday basis with the commodified urban space of modern London. Many prominent New Woman writers are more concerned with the Victorian double standard, with women』s subjection in marriage and home, without, however, duly challenging the ideology of the separate spheres itself or advocating for a new female selfhood based on women』s ability to navigate the commodified public space of urban modernity. This study seeks to argue that while such traits do seem to characterize the earliest phase of the New Woman phenomenon, by the turn of the century the New Woman is undergoing a subtle transformation whereby she is now seen as a healthy, embodied and fashionable young woman at home in and freely mobile in the public urban space, who does not scorn to take a pride in her looks (Heilmann 56) and maintains a complex relationship with the modern commodity culture by following its fashion in a rational way without denying any sense of the visual and sensual pleasures offered, and by participating in commodity culture either through working as journalists or writers for the mass market or by utilizing the specular strategies of commodity culture for feminist campaigns. A close examination of the complex and often contradictory literary and journalistic representations of the New Woman in the turn-of-the-century period shows that, unlike earlier constructions evidenced in the established feminist scholarship of the 1970s, the New Woman is a changing concept as it takes on more qualities that suggest a close link with the public urban space of modernity and a more complex relationship with the modern commodity culture. This study proposes to examine, over a two-year period, a number of New Woman novels written during the fin de siecle period. These include novels featuring the New Woman by male writers ---George Gissing』s The Odd Women and H. G. Wells』Ann Veronica, and those by the New Women writers themselves --- Ella Hepsworth Dixon』s The Story of a Modern Woman, Sarah Grand』s Ideala, and Amy Levy』s The Romance of a Shop. Both male as well as female writers and anti-feminists as well as feminists use New Woman fiction as a political tool. The male writers are often understood to take a less than sympathetic approach but their influence is more important because they are traditionally seen as technically and aesthetically more sound. Critical rediscovery of the New Woman in the 1970s tended to focus on these male writers and deprecated the 「didactic」outlook and aesthetic weakness of the female writers. Yet both the male-authored and female-authored texts demonstrate a complexity and difference or even contradiction in voices and layers that belie their one-dimensional construction as either conservative or progressive. The New Woman writers themselves have conflicting ideas on femininity and how much disruption of established categories is to be valorized or criticized. One thing seems clear, though, that by the end of the century the concept of the New Woman and her relationship to the commodified urban space of modern London are undergoing a subtle change. This study thus positions itself in the midst of recent critical interest in the New Woman which places her in the context of fin-de-siecle culture and stresses the concept as a protean site where a variety of cultural and social forces peculiar to that heterogeneous era combines to exert their impacts. The specific focus of this study is to argue for the New Woman』s links to modern commodity culture and to the commodified public space of urban modernity. Instead of positioning the New Woman as differentiated from the bulk of ordinary middle-class and lower-middle-class women on the basis of political consciousness, this study argues that the lines between the two are increasingly blurred toward the last years of the century as the New Women themselves express their disruption by physically traversing the public streets of London and immersing themselves in urban commodity culture, and also by demonstrating healthy appetites and enjoying the physical desires of the body, both against traditional constructions of femininity and against earlier feminist rejection of the body to focus on female moral transcendence and purity. Ordinary, young middle-class women, on the other hand, also increasingly take up feminist ideas with enthusiasm and modify them into claims for personal liberty and equality of opportunity in the public space of modern London, thus testifying to the success of the feminist social project as well as to the blurring of line between the New Women and their less political, more numerous sisters. An understanding of the New Woman and her everyday experience of urban modernity is crucial for a more nuanced understanding of the meaning of modernity. This study is to be carried out on a two-year basis. The first year seeks to focus on the issue of public mobility and of the New Woman as the urban passenger, always mobile and in movement, taking part in the commodified public space of modern London and making extensive use of its mechanized systems of mass transport. By the end of the century, extensive mass transportation system in the form of the omnibus, the trams, the underground and suburban railway made daily travel a commonplace and especially ensured freedom in movement for women (Nead). People commuted daily in and out of London, and many of the most profitable lines of service ran through the central shopping and consuming districts. If Baudelaire in mid-century Paris talks of the poet』s loss of halo in crossing a busy road and of 「death galloping at me form all directions」in the form of rushing traffic (94), by end-century London, traffic is even more congested and mechanized mobility ever more widespread. As the aesthetic poet Arthur Symons asks, 「does anyone any longer walk?..In London there will soon be no need of men, there will be nothing but machines.」(qtd. Vadillo 23) For the New Woman traversing the commodified and mechanized space of modern London, she is no longer just the walker but also the passenger, and her negotiation of urban space is inevitably affected by faster speed and also greater immersion in the machine and the commodity (bus and subway widely advertise commodities and also their fares turn time and space into commodities). Paradoxically, women』s ability to use such mechanized means of mobility is crucially linked to their ability to foster a more independent selfhood (The Odd Women), and the machine and the commodity seem to bring an enlarged scope of possibilities as well as risks for women (The Romance of a Shop, Ideala, The Story of the Modern Woman). This first stage thus proposes to examine the New Woman』s complicated relationship with the commodifed public space of the modern city and how that helps or constrains the construction of a more enabling female subjectivity. The second stage seeks to examine the issue of the body. Earlier feminists in the 19th century tended to suppress and mistrust the body in their earnesty to valorize women』s moral purity and sexual transcendence (or non-sexuality) over the perceived animal needs of men. Such arguments actually reinforce Victorian gender constructions of sexual propriety, of sacrificial femininity whereby women are believed to be more gratified by feeding and nourishing others than by confessing and meeting any physical desires in themselves, constructions which further expand to buttress the cult of domesticity and the ideology of the separate spheres. But many New Woman novels of the 1890s portray the New Woman as fully embodied women with healthy appetites and physical desires and pleasures. Their 「mannish」appetites and desires and physical arousability point to a fully functional body in contrast with the often starved, ladylike appetites represented by the traditional Victorian feminine model (The Odd Women) and the denial of the sensual body by earlier feminists (Ann Veronica), and are importantly linked to their increasing independence and confidence in navigating the urban public space (Ideala). The material body is a polyvalent signifier, and its shifting representation is dependent on the subtleties of gender, class, and other discourses which impact on the context of signification. On the other hand it is also performative and not just a blank, passive tableau rasa waiting for inscription by external forces. The examination of the issue of body in the New Woman』s interaction with the commodified urban space of modernity thus offers another crucial gateway into the meaning of women』s experience of urban modernity.
|Data Type: ||report|
|Appears in Collections:||[英國語文學系] 國科會研究計畫|
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