the very raison d'etre of literary studies by forgoing the attempt
to discover a true meaning of a work'. Instead, it 'analyses the
structure of the work and the forces on which it depends... the
relations between the work and its enabling conditions'.
Roland Barthes suggested
that the text is a 'multi-dimensional space in which a variety
of writings, none of them original, blend and clash...'a text's
unity lies not in its origin, but in its destination'. In other
words, he suggests that when reading, the reader 'produces' a
text from resources that various norms and structures make available
to him or her, forging meanings from 'what has already been read,
seen, done, lived, assuming many different, and possibly contradictory
roles as a text is read. Thus, the reader is 'no longer the consumer
but the producer of the text' (S/Z: 10/14).
type of thinking is at work in feminist
accounts of the reading process because
it poses the possibility of 'reading as a woman' as opposed to
a generalised, unsituated reader. Feminist critics have suggested
that women are 'expected to identify with a masculine experience
and perspective which is presented as the human one' (Showalter,
Women and the Literary Curriculum p. 856) and often this male
perspective includes a negative presentation of women.