AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... 2018 The Communion of Clouds : Becoming-Woman in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In her well-read work on contemporary feminist theory titled Nomadic Subjects (2011), Rosi Braidotti gets to grips with the Deleuzian notion of ‘becoming-woman’. Noting that the concept has experienced a good deal of criticism in feminist circles (and from some important feminists too, such as Luce Irigaray), Braidotti argues that there is still something of extreme importance in this concept for the feminist to recover. For Braidotti, ‘becoming-woman’ allows for ‘a nonunitary and multi-layered vision’ of the subject. That is to say, it allows for the description of ‘a dynamic and changing entity’ (5) – one that challenges the striated formulations of ‘woman’ found in phallo- and Euro-centric master codes. Importantly, however, it does so not by posing an essentialised subject position of ‘woman’ for others either to mimic or aspire to (often the grounds for the misreading of the concept), but rather by referencing ‘woman’ as an intensity of sorts, an intensity that is the pre-condition for both revolutionary thought and action (249-250).

'This paper takes the Deleuzian concept of ‘becoming-woman’ and uses it as a way to understand the enigmatic relationship that develops between the Magistrate and the barbarian girl in Coetzee’s early novel, Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). Beginning with a brief characterisation of the barbarian girl as an agent of transformation, this paper goes on to offer an explanation for why the encounter between the Magistrate and the barbarian girl necessarily results in the Magistrate’s turn away from the State.'  (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Literary Studies Thematising Women in the Work of J. M. Coetzee vol. 33 no. 1 February 2018 12964671 2018 periodical issue

    'All but one of the essays in this special issue called ‘Thematising Women in the Work of J. M. Coetzee’ were first presented at the 'Reading Coetzee’s Women' conference convened by Prof. Sue Kossew and Dr Melinda Harvey at Monash University’s Prato Centre in Italy in September 2016. We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the Faculty of Arts at Monash University that enabled the conference to take place. The topic of women in Coetzee’s writing is of ongoing interest and importance, and the essays in this special issue address it in different ways – although most, to some extent, ponder the intentions and effects of what Carrol Clarkson in her lead essay memorably dubs his narrative strategy of ‘womanizing’. One of the features of the conference was a translators’ panel where a number of Coetzee’s translators discussed their approaches to the challenges presented by his work, and this discussion is represented here by a standalone essay by Coetzee’s Italian translator, Franca Cavagnoli.' (Introduction)

Last amended 27 Feb 2018 09:30:11 The Communion of Clouds : Becoming-Woman in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarianssmall AustLit logo Australian Literary Studies