Voorbij de resisting reader. Poetica van de vegetatieve ziel in Hella Haasse

G. Strik

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Beyond the resisting reader Poetics of the vegetative soul in Hella Haasse. Outline This article addresses the following question: How can the materiality of imagination and literature expand the scope of feminist analyses onto a writer who is often viewed to be in a hesitant relation to feminist issues? Two related concepts in feministic literature theory will be discussed; the concept of the subject that underlies the resisting reader and the concept that underlies a resisting reading. (Fetterley 1978, Meijer 1988) It will be argued that demands made towards the oeuvre of Haasse by a resisting reading ignore the singularity of literature and the materiality of imagination. Beyond the resisting reader I introduce the radically opposed figuration of the vegetative soul (Miller 2002). This figuration stemming from Aristotle’s’ Anima refers to a theory of subjectivity that evolves from what M.H. Abrams (1958) called ‘vegetable genius’; the Goethean idea of genius as a plant like relationship from the creative mind to nature as the place from where it originates, without individual agency and lacking transparency to self as its reason for being. How can this ‘vegetable’ figuration, reread through the material epistemology of Gaston Bachelard and Gilles Deleuze provide an alternative for the well known “resisting reader” and the presumed intentional subject of feminist literary theory of the nineties? Through a double reading strategy of The Hidden Source (1950) by Hella S. Haasse the practice of resisting reading and the alternative of a material-semiotic reading will be demonstrated. To this end the novella will be read through the lens of the Chronotope (Bakhtin 2005) and reread through a material-semiotic epistemology derived form the ‘teratology of the elements’ by Bachelard. How can this material semiotic reading provide a ‘diffractive’ method (Van der Tuin 2010) that broadens feminist practices and transcends the identity-political foreclosure of complexity?
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages64
JournalTijdschrift voor Genderstudies
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Specialized histories (international relations, law)
  • Literary theory, analysis and criticism
  • Culturele activiteiten
  • Overig maatschappelijk onderzoek
  • Geschiedenis en Kunstgeschiedenis (GEKU)

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