Postmodernist Fictions of Girlhood: "Child-Drag” in The Stain and Blood and Guts in High School

Oliver J Hancock


Whilst scholarship about postmodernist American literature has tended to focus on the entanglements of power, language, identity, and history, few have noted the important role played by children and child culture. Reading Rikki Ducornet’s The Stain and Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School through the lens of literary child studies can usefully demonstrate the ways in which postmodernist literature relies on depictions of childhood to interrogate language and culture acquisition, analogised in terms of parental, pedagogical and institutional control. Ducornet and Acker’s novels, in particular, use a young girl’s voice—to borrow a phrase from Acker, a kind of ‘child-drag’—to explore themes of control and female sexuality, and to demonstrate the broader difficulty of achieving some “authentic” identity, when “identity” is so often viewed as violence submitted from without. In conjunction with poststructuralist and feminist theories of identity-making, this essay will explore how both Ducornet and Acker use the form of the bildungsroman to explore how a self-effacing girlhood beset by naïve bad faith can try to transform itself—through a characteristically postmodernist disassembly of language—into a new and more authentic language of the self.


Literary Child Studies; Postmodernist Literature; Girlhood Studies; Feminist Studies; American Literature; 20th Century Literature

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Data publikacji: 2022-12-28 14:59:55
Data złożenia artykułu: 2022-01-19 15:54:06


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