Elizabeth Bishop’s sounds of sanity

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Elizabeth Bishop’s sounds of sanity

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Title: Elizabeth Bishop’s sounds of sanity
Author: Canipe, Cayce Leigh
Abstract: In this article, I examine the implications of rewriting definitions of sanity and insanity through the use of noise, silence, and language,positioningElizabeth Bishop’s short story “In the Village” as a form of resistance against traditional readings of madness, logocentrism, and identity. I suggest that by writing her characters as undivided from the world of sound, Elizabeth Bishop’s story shifts understandings of insanity, which is often conceptualized through denials of agency, allowing her characters to escape in noises and hesitations in language and communication. “In the Village” avoids silencing the “insane” mother through her placement in a caesura of sound and silence. This article avoids a biographical reading of “In the Village,” which is often connected with her own mother’s “mental breakdown,” because Bishop’s writing would have been as much affected by her conscious awareness of her past as it was by the unconscious impulses and histories of writing in the West. Rather, I take into account Bishop’s own personal history as well as the repetitions that reflect a placement in a tradition appearing in the story itself. Using this particular lens, I believe a rereading of “In the Village” is in order, where the “mad mother” is not silenced by the oppressive social structures that control the insane,” but she instead finds escape in the multitudes of sounds that associate with her, erasing the power of language and opening a new world where agency exists in a scream or in a striking hammer.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10437/3026
Date: 2011


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