Abstract

In this article I critically consider the usefulness of Jacques Rancière's “politics of literarity,” as explicated by Samuel Chambers, for understanding feminist politics. Emphasizing the historical and grammatical dimensions of the speech acts central to a politics of literarity, I show that women's assertions of gender injustice remain tightly tethered to a police order whose disruption remains crucial to establishing the political bona fides of any such claim to equality. While Chambers embraces this paradoxical aspect of a politics of literarity—that it both disrupts police and remains embedded within it—I suggest that the paradoxes confronted by those who articulate the “wrongs” of the gender order perforce raise questions about the adequacy of literarity as a linchpin of democratic politics. I elaborate this claim by reconsidering the historical example of Olympe de Gouges, first as her feminist speech is parsed by Joan Scott and second as it is parsed by Rancière.

You do not currently have access to this content.