The Invisible Woman in the Academy: Or, Murder Still Without a Text

Alice Jardine, Harvard University
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall 2005), 223-229.

This article emits a grief-stricken, activist outcry against the invisibility repeatedly reported by feminist scholars: the invisibility experienced by the most accomplished of contemporary women thinkers and the invisibility of the still more numerous women who have experienced their voices silenced before their time. Bringing a feminist anger once more to bear on the university system that Heilbrun did so much to break open on behalf of women writers and scholars, this essay takes up this work where Heilbrun left off. Seeking new texts and new theory for this invisibility and these deaths, this essay drafts four paradigms for patriarchal “murder all the same”: murders of physical self-destruction or the failure to care for oneself; of psychological self-destruction or the internalization of self-abasement; of emotional self-destruction or the self-division produced by compartmentalization and self-isolation; and of spiritual self-destruction or one’s transformation into the best patriarch of all. The paper turns too to Donald Moss’s work on the deadly effects of accumulated humiliation and insult and to Teresa Brennan’s on the politics of the patriarchal ego and its drive to dominate psychic space. What this paper nonetheless also sees and invites us to join, when looking back at Heilbrun, is Carolyn writing at her desk, fiercely and bravely fighting back for other women writers against insult and self-disappearing.

This article is part of a special issue of personal and scholarly reflections on the life of Carolyn Heilbrun.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]