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Title:Off-Center: On the Limits of Theory and Lived Experience
Author(s):Costa, Claudia J. De Lima
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Grossberg, Lawrence
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Abstract:In bringing together contemporary theoretical perspectives (feminist, literary, and cultural theories), this dissertation addresses issues of gender, identity, and difference with reference to the life trajectories of a group of women living in a squatter settlement in Florianopolis, Brazil. It combines analyses of narrative forms (life-histories) and ethnographic description to assess the extent to which theories about the subject and agency in feminism and poststructuralism speak to the material reality of the women interviewed. In doing so, it attempts to interrogate both the limits of theory and lived experience. Against the textualism of many contemporary theoretical tendencies, and working from within the available "scenarios of representation" (subjectivity, identity, politics), this study develops a feminist self-reflexive, politically accountable, and theoretically situated reading (from several trans-locations) of the stories theories tell us about ourselves and the stories the women interviewed tell about their life experiences. The attempt is to provide--through contemporary discussions about the subject in feminism, life histories, and ethnography--the outlines of a critical practice that does not lose sight of the materiality of "women's experience" at the same time that it interrogates naive and romantic notions of an empiricist self and unmediaded experience. The metaphor of the story is used to avoid drawing too clear a separation between epistemological discussions and autobiographical reflections. Despite their apparent differences and the dissimilar treatment accorded them, these two pursuits belong to "zones of difference" within a larger social analytics that attempts to map out the workings of culture and the dynamics of power circumscribing our lives.
Issue Date:1998
Description:322 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9904423
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1998

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