Charles Gaines


The work of Sandra Rowe cannot be understood within the specific concerns of social/political discourse alone. Indeed, her subject matter suggests a deeper, more complex polemic. Rowe is interested in the postmodern controversy surrounding the nature of the subject, i.e., she is not only questioning the centralized and linear notion of subject as constructed by modernist discourse, but in fact positing an abstract notion of the subject, a theory of "lack" or "absence'" that stands as the privileged object of her investigation. The issues raised by her work are not important because of their social commentary alone, but also because they constitute (as controversies) a polemical structure. The subject is not simply a character but instead a dialectical framework through which the subject is realized. Contrary to some critical commentary assigning Rowe's work to feminist and/or ethnic concerns (1), Rowe attempts to transcend feminist and race specific discourse. In this way she seeks to unite opposites and contradictions. Here we find a specific contradiction in that this gesture can be interpreted equally as feminist and anti-feminist. This contradiction gives rise to the possibility that the object of Rowe' s narrative is not only the affirmation of specific social positions and concerns, but contradiction itself, which could, on a connotative level, stand as a commentary on issues of race-difference and sexuality.


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