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Embodying Experience and Agency in Yvonne Vera's "Without a Name" and "Butterfly Burning"

Grace Musila
Research in African Literatures
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 49-63
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4618373
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Embodying Experience and Agency in Yvonne Vera's "Without a Name" and "Butterfly Burning"
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Abstract

This paper reflects on how the corporeality of women's bodies frames their experiences, options, and choices. Through a reading of Yvonne Vera's Without a Name and Butterfly Burning, the paper suggests that Vera explores interactions between discursive practices and the embodied experience of these discourses for women living on the extreme margins of society. This reading suggests that these women's lived experiences as played out by, and on their bodies, are central in shaping the choices they make and their exercise of agency. Further, the essay argues, these women's responses, while appealing to seemingly extravagant and melodramatic tropes, in the contexts of their circumstances articulate a radical reconceptualization of agency and resistance. Most remarkably, Vera's women force us to rethink ideas about nature/sex/body as rigid and immutable, and therefore an unviable site of intervention in gender struggles.

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