October 10 is my friend Naomi Schor’s birthday. She would have turned 80 this year.
Naomi’s Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory, and French Realist Fiction was one of the first books published in the Gender and Culture series Carolyn Heilbrun and I co-edited at Columbia University Press, in 1985. In the chapter titled “Female Paranoia,” Naomi boldly made a claim for a new form of feminist literary theory. As distinct from believers in metaphors of vaginal theory like Julia Kristeva, Naomi’s variant would feature the clitoris: “the clitoral school of feminist criticism,” she wrote, and whose rhetorical “figure” is “synecdoche, the detail-figure.”
It feels vivifying to remember the panache of feminist theory in the ’80s and Naomi’s fearless thinking as part of it. I had post-its attached to the pages in which her argument appears.