The Fragmented Female Body and Identity explores the symbol of the wounded and scarred female body in selected postmodern, multiethnic American women’s novels, namely Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, Phyllis Alesia Perry’s Stigmata, Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Emma Perez’s Gulf Dreams, Paula Gunn Allen’s The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, and Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School and Empire of the Senseless. In each of these novels, disjointed, postmodern writing reflects the novel’s focus on fragmented female bodies. The wounded and scarred body emerges from various, often intersecting, forms of oppression, including patriarchy, racism, and heteronormativity. This book emphasizes the different and nuanced forms of oppression each woman faces. However, while the fragmented body symbolizes oppression and pain, it also catalyzes resistance through recognition. When female characters recognize some element of a shared oppression, they form bonds with one another. These feminist unities, as a response to multiple forms of oppression, become viable means for resistance and healing.
This book is both accessible and intellectually challenging. First off, Pamela June takes the time to define the terms necessary to understand this work and gives useful historical context, which makes this work extremely helpful to those who are just starting out in this line of inquiry. She also uses some of the most well-known feminist critics and writers like Susan Bordo and Helene Cixous to accomplish this task, making this work all the more useful to a range of scholars. At the same time, June puts into conversation a range of novels that allow readers to explore the implications of fragmentation to the female body, addressing how familial and communal identities connect women when they become fragmented… and how they connect women because of that fragmentation. The novels she includes in this study range from the iconic (like Toni Morrison’s Beloved) to those that deserve more scholarly attention (like Perez’s Gulf Dreams). The approach June takes gives seemingly unconnected texts a greater meaning and causes readers to question how the bonds between women are created in text and life.