Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2002

Keywords

Blindness, blindness narrative, disability narrative, women's autobiography, women and blindness

Abstract

This essay discusses Sight Unseen, Georgina Kleege's collection of personal essays about partial blindness from macular degeneration, and explores the challenge Kleege poses to the presumably universal relation between vision, knowledge, and stable subjectivity. I argue that the semiotic and personal analysis Kleege performs in her essays disrupts the entrenched connection between seeing and selfhood whereby the blind are construed as diminished or helpless figures. Sight Unseen maximizes the specular effects of the autobiographical situation, making transgressively visible the anomalous body that patriarchal discourse has sought to control and that feminist theory has largely ignored as a meaningful category of identity. The text manifests the defining impact of disability on a woman's idea of herself in a culture in which the parameters of normative gendered identity are circulated largely through visual imagery, but in turn contests the ontological primacy of vision by orienting the narrative toward the new focal point of blindness. Unveiling the fictions surrounding sightedness as a stable mode of access to identity and reality, Kleege subverts the dominance of myths of knowledge and mastery granted to the eyes.

Published In

NWSA Journal

Volume

14

Issue

3

Pages

155-177

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