Heroines, new edition (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents) (Paperback)

Heroines, new edition (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents) By Kate Zambreno, Jamie Hood (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Kate Zambreno, Jamie Hood (Introduction by)
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A manifesto reclaiming the wives and mistresses of literary modernism that inspired a generation of writers and scholars, reissued after more than a decade.

I am beginning to realize that taking the self out of our essays is a form of repression. Taking the self out feels like obeying a gag order—pretending an objectivity where there is nothing objective about the experience of confronting and engaging with and swooning over literature.

On the last day of December 2009, Kate Zambreno, then an unpublished writer, began a blog called "Frances Farmer Is My Sister," arising from her obsession with literary modernism and her recent transplantation to Akron, Ohio, where her partner held a university job. Widely reposted, Zambreno's blog became an outlet for her highly informed and passionate rants and melancholy portraits of the fates of the modernist “wives and mistresses," reclaiming the traditionally pathologized biographies of Vivienne Eliot, Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, and Zelda Fitzgerald: writers and artists themselves who served as male writers' muses only to end their lives silenced, erased, and institutionalized. Over the course of two years, Frances Farmer Is My Sister helped create a community of writers and devised a new feminist discourse of writing in the margins and developing an alternative canon. 

In Heroines, Zambreno extends the polemic begun on her blog into a dazzling, original work of literary scholarship. Combing theories that have dictated what literature should be and who is allowed to write it—she traces the genesis of a cultural template that consistently exiles feminine experience to the realm of the “minor,” and diagnoses women for transgressing social bounds. “ANXIETY: When she experiences it, it's pathological,” writes Zambreno. “When he does, it's existential.” With Heroines, Zambreno provided a model for a newly subjectivized criticism, prefiguring many group biographies and forms of autotheory and hybrid memoirs that were to come in the years to follow. A book that has become its own canon, Heroines was named one of the "50 Books that define the past 5 Years in Literature" by Flavorwire, an "Essential Feminist Manifesto" by Dazed, and one of the "50 Greatest Books by Women" in Buzzfeed.

About the Author

Kate Zambreno is the author of nine books, most recently To Write As if Already Dead, a study of Hervé Guibert, and The Light Room, a meditation on art and care. At Semiotext(e) she published Heroines, Book of Mutter, and Appendix Project. She teaches graduate nonfiction at Columbia University and is the Strachan Donnelley Chair in Environmental Writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Nonfiction Fellow.

Jamie Hood is a poet, memoirist, and critic. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Vogue, Bookforum, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.

Praise For…

"It's kind of a book of utterances ... it's beautiful and I love it."
—Kristen Stewart

“The book is startlingly insightful.”

“Issues a powerful clarion call for a supportive community of female writers who will fixate on their own experiences without shame and reject the 'measuring rod' of the 'Great American (Male) Novelist.’”
Publishers Weekly

“I was reading your book intensely for days and people started asking, 'Ok ok, what is this book?' What is this book you are so enraptured by? And I said, 'Well, it's a book I've been waiting for a long time.' I am very excited it exists.”
—Mary Borkowski, The New Inquiry

“With equal parts unabashed pathos and exceptional intelligence, Heroines foregrounds female subjectivity to produce an impressive and original work that examines the suppression of various female modernists in relation to Zambreno's own complicated position as a writer and a wife.”
—Christopher Higgs, The Paris Review Online

“A lush, lyrical feminist memoir.”
—Laurie Penny, The New Statesman

“I'm hard-pressed to think of a book I've read this year that obsessed me more in the moment, rippled out as much into my daily life and conversations, or left more powerful aftershocks.”
—Gina Frangello, The Rumpus

Heroines reads with an almost physical urgency, as though written in a hot, hot heat.”
—Martha Bayne, Chicago Reader

Heroines is part literary criticism, part literary history, part memoir, part feminist polemic.”
—Subashini Navaratnam, Popmatters

“The book sizzles with combative, confessional wit as she deconstructs the toxic strategies that Anglo-US culture uses to dismiss or erase 'the girl writing'. Brilliant and groundbreaking.”
—David Kennedy, Times Higher Education

“The writing in Heroines is sharp, visceral, self-avowedly furious, often brilliant…”
—Jerome Boyd Maunsell, Times Literary Supplement

“Zambreno doesn't write with the measured voice of someone who can count on being listened to, but with the wail of someone confined to a shed.”
—Sheila Heti, London Review of Books

Heroines is rigorous and confident, fiercely intelligent in its demand for a fairer way of reading, writing and writing about women—past, present and future.”
—Juliet Jacques, New Statesman

Product Details
ISBN: 9781635902082
ISBN-10: 1635902088
Publisher: Semiotext(e)
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Semiotext(e) / Active Agents