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Past lives and contemporary longings

Deborah J Archer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation is a collection of creative nonfiction works, underpinned by contemporary critical theory. My theory, explained in the introductory essay, “The Erotic Window,” explores the dynamics of self and other. It asserts that because Western logic, hence the discourses underpinned by that logic, is oppositional, language for expressing connection and exchange with another is extremely limited. Since erotic language highlights desire and emphasizes affiliation (positively or negatively, consciously or unconsciously) with another, it is perhaps most accessible and recognizable to us for expressing such connections. Therefore, when one experiences a powerful sense of exchange or communion with another, the attempt to articulate it often “eroticizes” the experience even though nothing “sexual” may have occurred. ^ The essays following the introduction might be categorized as creative nonfiction or memoir. Each of them explores complex and shifting self-other dynamics, constructions of “identity,” and various conceptions of the erotic, often from a particularly lesbian perspective. They are moments of becoming—liminal spaces, permeable, in flux. Memory and anticipation, mind and body, theorist and lover—both, simultaneously—dancing, swirling, entering each other. ^ While the essays can be read as separate works, they whisper to one another, call out names, wrestle, and sometimes woo. That is how we become—we beings with bodies who bump about the Earth—through the ecstasy and struggle of contact with others, our selves, and the others within our selves. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Literature, American|Language, Rhetoric and Composition

Recommended Citation

Archer, Deborah J, "Past lives and contemporary longings" (1999). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9942110.