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Reading: The Experience of Female Embodiment in William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion

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The Experience of Female Embodiment in William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion

Author:

Małgorzata Łuczyńska-Hołdys

University of Warsaw, PL
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Abstract

In the following paper my aim is to investigate the representation of female experience of embodiment in William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion through the lens of corporeal feminism and Foucauldian power/knowledge theory. This theoretical vantage point results from the fact that although the theories of embodiment have received much attention from feminist scholars in the last decades and Blake’s texts have frequently been the subject of feminist readings, the key theme of the female body as a site of power struggle is absent from the criticism of Visions of the Daughters of Albion. My article shows that in his poem Blake rejects Cartesian dualism of body and mind, pronounces it virtually impossible and psychologically detrimental, and that, in so doing, he addresses a number of important feminist concerns: the rights and position of women, gender (in)equality, the shaping of female subjectivity and its relation to bodily experience. Secondly, the present article demonstrates how, in Visions of the Daughters of Albion, text and design enter a mutual semantic relationship of contradiction rather than complementarity. Sometimes working through the technique of syncopation (displacement), but frequently clashing with the text they seemingly illustrate, Blake’s designs run a parallel story to the one which is verbally expressed in the poem. My examination of this dynamic relationship facilitates and strengthens a feminist and a psychological reading of Visions.
How to Cite: Łuczyńska-Hołdys, M., 2020. The Experience of Female Embodiment in William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(1), pp.1–27.
Published on 16 May 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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