Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-b9rrs Total loading time: 0.367 Render date: 2022-12-04T11:43:17.146Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Chapter 6 - Feminine modes of knowing and scientific enquiry: Margaret Cavendish's poetry as case study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Helen Wilcox
Affiliation:
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands
Get access

Summary

Ignorance, far more than knowledge, is what can never be taken for granted. IfI perceive my ignorance as a gap in knowledge instead of an imperative that changes the very nature of what I think I know, then I do not truly experience my ignorance.

Barbara Johnson's statement not only challenges conventional modes of knowing but demands that we look at the concepts of knowledge and ignorance in a different light. In her view, ignorance does not signal the mere absence and opposite of knowledge. Rather, it is conceived as a means of examining and reconsidering the very terms within which we understand things.

The question of how knowledge is formulated, the cultural practices that inform how it is defined and the uses to which it may be put, have been major preoccupations of a range of feminist writing for some time. Such work unsettles the polarities that have found common currency in the meanings produced by modern Western culture. Johnson, for example, interrogates the conventional opposition between knowledge and ignorance and especially the gender markings inscribed in the cultural meanings of those terms which seek to fix woman (and ignorance) as the supplementary opposite of man (and knowledge). In turn, the effect of this radical questioning is to challenge the way in which we make sense and shape of the world in language: it is to shift, unfix and exceed the boundaries of knowing, and to contest the power relations that underlie gender relations.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1996

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
4
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×