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Laughing with MedusaClassical Myth and Feminist Thought$
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Vanda Zajko and Miriam Leonard

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237944.001.0001

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‘Beyond glorious Ocean’: Feminism, Myth, and America

‘Beyond glorious Ocean’: Feminism, Myth, and America

(p.209) 8 ‘Beyond glorious Ocean’: Feminism, Myth, and America
Laughing with Medusa

Gregory Staley

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the role of myth in the construction of the nation and looks in particular at the experience of America. It argues that, for the founding fathers, the New World was no place for myth. However, Hélène Cixous's influential essay, ‘Laugh of the Medusa’, takes as its dominant metaphor a notion particularly relevant to America: that of woman as unknown land waiting to be discovered and explored. This trope of discovering new worlds is central to Cixous's account of woman's quest because America offered a model for how those on antiquity's margins could critique the centre, a model already followed by Sir Thomas More in his Utopia. Here, More associated the very idea of utopia with the new world. Cixous catalogues her mythic readings in a section of The Newly Born Woman titled ‘Sorties’, in which her mythic antiland has an ideology that sounds much like that of America.

Keywords:   feminism, classical myth, America, new world, Utopia, Hélène Cixous, antiland, Thomas More, metaphor

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