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articulate a particularly powerful vision of what I am going to call erasure poetics as performative writing.
These texts challenge socially-sanctioned histories of reception, betraying the construction of female conduct and Shakespearean sexuality (respectively) as unnecessary fictions stuck in the “as is.” Both Ruefle’s and Bervin’s texts operate in the liminal space of “what if.” What if, for example, a modern woman erases the moral subjectivity from an eighteenth century conduct manual?
so as to allow another world to rebuild (keep on unbuilding and rebuilding) itself with debris” (23)?
What if, by insisting on “what if,” erasure demonstrates that meaning is not only producible but re-producible, coexisting in the always already and in the may (never) be?
With one foot in the past and one foot in the present, erasures like vii).
My argument here is not, however, predicated on similarity but rather upon difference.
Though similarity (Both texts erase, make fragment.) makes conversation between the two texts possible, their difference enables this useful excursion into the generative possibilities of performative writing.