Hilda Doolittle’s Lesbian Vision

  • Georgia Johnston


Hilda Doolittle1 makes a formidable contribution to a trajectory of lesbian modernist autobiography. Through this genre she contests Ellis’s and Freud’s theories of female development. She also expands the stylistic methodologies used by Sackville-West and Woolf, which, reading within this lesbian autobiographical tradition, begin to seem lesbian autobiographical markers. Lesbian stylistic markers are especially interesting to consider while reading Woolf and Doolittle through a critical lens of lesbian autobiography, since neither states in their autobiographies that they have had lesbian relationships. Extending upon a use of counterfeit rhetoric, Doolittle acknowledges both Ellis and Freud but places her thinking in contrast to them; she creates her own rhetorical systems coexisting with theirs. Instead of textualizing Freudian and patriarchal roles for the patriarchal daughter, Doolittle transfers onto Freud the role of mother. Exchange between women creates vision that takes Doolittle into an autobiographical identity reaching beyond that which Freud can give her. Woolf’s suggestive but slight use of memory as a trace to reexperience the past becomes full-blown for Doolittle. Through emphasis on experience, through repetition, through temporal conflation, and through new conceptions of memory, she textualizes a lesbian erotic subjectivity.


Sexual Relationship Sexual Object Gift Exchange Lightning Flash Spiritual World 
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© Georgia Johnston 2007

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  • Georgia Johnston

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