ENGL 6310/7310 Popular Culture Studies
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ENGL 6310/7310 Popular Culture Studies Fall 2011 PH 300 M 240-540 Dr. David Lavery 10/10/11 PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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ENGL 6310/7310 Popular Culture Studies Fall 2011 PH 300 M 240-540 Dr. David Lavery 10/10/11. Popular Culture Studies. Feminism. Part Four: Feminism 17. Ien Ang— Dallas  and the Ideology of Mass Culture

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ENGL 6310/7310 Popular Culture Studies Fall 2011 PH 300 M 240-540 Dr. David Lavery 10/10/11

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Engl 6310

ENGL 6310/7310 Popular Culture Studies

Fall 2011

PH 300

M 240-540

Dr. David Lavery

10/10/11


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

17. Ien Ang—Dallas and the Ideology of Mass Culture

18. Lana F. Rakow—Feminist Approaches to Popular Culture: Giving Patriarchy its Due (Hall)

19. Janice Radway—Reading Reading the Romance (Hall)

20. Christine Geraghty—Soap Opera and Utopia (Mathis)

21. Judith Butler—Imitation and Gender Insubordination (Hughes)

Mini-Casebook: Banerjee


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

17. Ien Ang—Dallas and the Ideology of Mass Culture


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

18. Lana F. Rakow—Feminist Approaches to Popular Culture: Giving Patriarchy its Due (Hall)


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

19. Janice Radway—Reading Reading the Romance (Hall)


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

20. Christine Geraghty—Soap Opera and Utopia (Mathis)


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

21. Judith Butler—Imitation and Gender Insubordination (Hughes)

Mini-Casebook: Banerjee


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism

Part Four: Feminism

Mini-Casebook: Banerjee


Engl 6310

Popular Culture Studies

Feminism


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“Angel in the House”

A concept of desirable femininity (from Coventry Patmore's nineteenth century poem) critiqued by Virginia Woolf who argued for the necessity of killing this internalised aspect of the feminine for women to be fully effective. She argued further in Three Guineas that it was also necessary to kill 'the lady'—although even then 'the woman still remained'.

Feminism

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Difference Feminism

Where liberal feminists have campaigned for equal rights with men, assuming similar status in terms of humanity, rationality, and mental capability (Wollstonecraft, Beauvoir), feminists interested in difference have recognised, and sometimes celebrated the dissimilarities between men and women. For example, one of the central differences between women and men has been perceived as the maternal child bearing role associated with (and culturally imposed upon) women and the feminine. Some difference feminists argue that women are 'naturally' more caring, compassionate, and giving, and should embrace this as a positive quality, thereby undermining the negative connotations of femininity under patriarchy. Other feminists have argued that this simply essentialises traditionally feminine qualities as normal and natural, leaving no space for resistance to what are perceived as restrictive feminine roles.

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Difference Feminism

Other feminists of difference recognise that gender roles are constructed categories, but undertake an analysis of how these differences are constructed and maintained (Irigaray, Cixous). Rather than celebrating difference per se, or simply attempting to circumnavigate it, difference is recognised as socially, politically, ideologically and linguistically entrenched, and maintained in order to repress women. The category of woman must be considered with alternative analytical tools in order to recognise sites of repression, resistance, and spaces of the feminine.

Difference feminism has been considered problematic in that it considers woman to be a transcendental category. The category of woman, in actuality, is intersected by differences such as class, race, ethnicity, disability and ability, sexuality, age, and occupation.

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Desire

Desire (i.e. heterosexual desire) is often understood as natural, whilst same-sex desire is posited as unnatural. In contrast, feminists such as Adrienne Rich and Judith Butler have argued that heterosexual desire is a social construct. Rich writes of a regime of 'compulsory heterosexuality', while Judith Butler refers to the heterosexual matrix.

Desire is also particularly important in psychoanalytic contexts, where desire is understood to be produced in a gap that fundamentally structures the subject. In Freudian terms, this gap is the realisation that the primary love object (the mother) cannot be loved due to the incest prohibition. Therefore the child is forever seeking the lost love object (especially apparent in unresolved

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Desire

oedipal complexes). For Lacan, the fundamental gap structuring the subject is the entry into the symbolic where the child recognises him/herself as distinct from the world around him/her. The child can never return to this presymbolic unity. Therefore there is an endless circling of desire around an unattainable demand.

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Discourse

Most apparently 'discourse' refers to a speech act. However, in current literary and feminist theory the term is most frequently used in a Foucauldian sense.

Michel Foucault theorised discourse as the ways of speaking about ourselves, ideas, and the world in general. We can speak about discourses of sexuality for example, or discourses of the family, or discourses of gender that circulate in western society. For example, dominant discourses of sexuality include the understanding of sexuality as an interior truth of the self, that it is a natural instinct, and that there is a distinction between normal and perverse sexuality.

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Discourse

Foucault claims that discourses are cultural products circulated by powerful institutions (such as the legal, political, educational and social institutions), as well as at the level of the individual. Thus discourses are important for maintaining systems of power and powerlessness.

Discourses do not simply elucidate an underlying truth or knowledge, but are actively involved in producing this knowledge. Discourses, for example, do not simply talk about sexuality, but actually produce the way it is understood as an inner part of the self, as natural or as perverse.

Historical specificity—that discourses are produced at particular times and locations—needs to be borne in mind in discussing them.

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Ecofeminism

A particular version of feminism that emerged from grassroots activism. Ecofeminism can take various forms, from an analysis of women's supposed inherent connection with 'nature', an understanding of the interconnectedness of 'nature' and 'culture' as opposed to the rationalist understanding of 'man' as the dominant species, to a critique of the capitalism and globalisation that perpetuates ongoing environmental degradation, consumerism, nuclear development, and colonialism. These factors contribute not only to the annihilation of ecosystems, but is also part of a broader analysis of the way in which that which is perceived as feminine (such as 'nature') is subject to patriarchal systems of power and domination.

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Écriture féminine

Associated with so-called French feminists Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, écriture féminine refers to a specifically women's writing or writing the feminine. It is characterised by fluidity, fragmentation, and jouissance, and is also associated with a writing of the female body—its otherness that threatens to disrupt to masculine symbolic order (see phallogocentrism).

Écriture féminine has been critiqued as being essentialist and doing little to actually improve the material conditions of women, especially since it seems to valorise a women's language that is outside standard linguistic systems and risks remaining unheard of dismissed as hysterical.

It could be answered that écriture féminine does not refer to an actual body, but to the way in which phallogocentric language systems have constructed the feminine body as lacking, castrated, and other to masculine bodies.

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Epistemology

Refers to a system of knowledge, incorporating ways of understanding and interpreting. A feminist epistemology may emphasise the dominance of patriarchal epistemology/ epistemologies, and emphasise feminine ways of knowing and interpreting the world. Some feminists may focus on women's corporeal difference, others on the political and social systems that maintain patriarchal epistemologies.

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Erotic

Eroticism is frequently defined in contrast with or opposition to pornography with the erotic often understood to be more feminine or feminised. The point at which this line is drawn between the erotic and the pornographic depends upon the feminist theorist's ethic of sexuality.

Theorists such as Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous have argued for an écriture féminine, or an eroticism in language; there is, they suggest, a trace of a specifically feminine libidinal body in women's writing and language. Their term for the pleasures of the text, as well as bodily pleasure, is jouissance.

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Female

A biological category which, as Toril Moi in “Feminist Literary Criticism” (see Jefferson and Robey) remarks, is often distinguished from feminine and feminist.

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Femininity

Practices and attitudes considered appropriate for women in the dominant ideology; socially constructed modes of behaviour associated with women. These vary between cultures and are modified by factors of class and ethnicity within cultures. French Feminism as constituted in the anglophone West can be read as validating femininity and its attributes over masculinity.

Refers to specific behaviours, practices, and attitudes associated with women (also referred to as a sex/gender distinction). Many feminists have argued that femininity is learned behaviours and practices (Moi), that are enforced by social, political, and ideological norms. According to this analysis femininity is in no way a natural or biological fact, but is a construct, a cultural product that is adopted by women in order to participate in a culture which functions largely in terms of masculine and feminine binary oppositions.

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Femininity

Feminist theorists have argued that the 'unnaturalness' of femininity needs to be exposed, and undertake a deconsctruction of the elements that participate in the construction of femininity (Spivak, Butler, hooks). This may involve an analysis of the representation of women in ideological terms, an exploration of the discourses and discursive paradigms that construct and maintain ideals of femininity, and an understanding of social and economic factors that maintain the marginality and lesser status of the feminine.

Femininity is not, however, universally applicable to all women. In the west, it has particularly been associated with white women and middle class women. Barbara Christian (1985) highlights the ways in which particular aspects of femininity are enabled by class

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Femininity

 position. Because Black women have frequently been part of the working class, it is the labour of these women that has also enabled femininity as a class construct. Sojourner Truth speaking at a women's rights rally in 1851 also recognises the class and racial biases of conventional femininity: “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?” (Conboy, Medina, and Stanbury 1997, 231) Jackie Huggins claims that a similar construct of femininity functions in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. That Indigenous women, particularly under paternalistic and racist

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Femininity

government legislation, were not considered 'feminine' is evidenced by the fact that they were expected to do not only 'women's' but also 'men's' work, such as wood chopping, fencing, and stock work. Ruby Langford Ginibi's life narrative Don't Take Your Love to Town documents her own experience of this labour, its irregularity, low pay, and poor conditions.

While some feminists have pointed to the constructed and learnt aspects of femininity, other feminists have embraced feminine qualities. Difference feminists argue that femininity should be recognised in terms of its differences from masculinity, and should be recognised as equally valid. Carol Gilligan in 1982 argued for a rethinking of measures of morality, claiming that women's morality is

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Femininity

rethinking of measures of morality, claiming that women's morality is based on 'natural' feminine qualities such as compassion and caring, rather than abstract moral principles commonly linked with so-called masculine qualities. Some writers associated with what is often labelled French feminism also tom some extent can be read as arguing this, although their frame of reference is often strongly that of psychoanalysis (see Cixous, Irigaray). The school of writing called écriture féminine however, mobilises this difference as a positive. Hélène Cixous in “The Laugh of the Medusa” calls for a specifically feminine writing that can challenge the dominance of the father's voice. 

This stance has been criticised by materialist feminists as essentialist.

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Feminist

An explicitly political stance committed to the analysis and amelioration of patriarchy, sexism, and gender. The term feminist is very broad, and often a site of dispute and debate, thus some feminists choose to specify types of feminists: for example, liberal feminist, marxist feminist, poststructuralist feminist, eco-feminist. The sites of application of feminist theory are also very broad, ranging from academic analyses to political and social intervention to grassroots activism.

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Gynocriticism

A term coined by Elaine Showalter to refer to the study of women writers. Gynocritics encompasses a history of writing by women as well as a study of women's writing in terms of theme, style, and structure. The study of women's writing not only examined the text itself, but recognised the difficulty of writing for women in a largely male-dominated literary and theoretical field, as well as positing a specifically female literary tradition.

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Hybrid

A cross or mixture of disparate entities. Associated with postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha who argues for the potential of hybrid discourses to subvert dominant discourses.

The hybrid discourse is a vehicle for denied or oppressed knowledges, as well as a mimicry of dominant discourses.

Identity is sometimes understood as hybrid.

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Hysteria

From the Greek word hystera, meaning womb. Hysteria is usually associated with women, and has been treated by hysterectomy and even clitoridectomy, see Adrienne Rich Of Woman Born and Elaine Showalter The Female Malady.

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud has been famously associated with the diagnosis and treatment of hysteria.

Hysteria often manifests as symptoms of illness (a cough, or rash, nervous tics) which have no physiological or medical cause. Freud understood these to be a result of unresolved issues repressed in the unconscious—often to do with the Oedipal complex.

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Hysteria

Some feminists have suggested that hysteria can be understood as the body articulating that which is otherwise unspeakable, and sometimes as a form of resistance to patriarchal and heterosexual norms. Other feminists have argued that this is a very limited form of resistance.

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Identity Politics

Refers to the construction and deployment of an identity for strategic purposes. For example, an identity based on race or class or sexuality may be used as the basis for collective political action (the Gay and Lesbian Law Reform Commission is one example of identity politics in action).

Identity politics emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s in response to the inadequacy of overarching concepts of gender used by the second wave women's movement to account for oppressions based on class, race, and sexuality.

More recently identity politics has been critiqued by theorists who claim that identity politics does not recognises people's multiple sites of belonging, and the differences between and within people gathered under an identity.

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Identity Politics

Furthermore, identity politics supposes a fixed and stable identity over time; this has been challenged by various postmodern and poststructuralist theories.

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Jouissance

Refers to pleasure, and has connotations of sexual pleasure. Jouissance is multiple, unstable, and cannot be contained.

Roland Barthes argued that the jouissance of a writerly text is not simply a pleasure, but also has a disruptive potential.

Feminists theorists have understood jouissance in terms of the feminine, and have argued for the potential of jouissance to both reflect women's pleasure, and to disrupt the phallogocentric dominance of a text.

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Lesbian

The term is derived from Lesbos, a Greek island where the poet Sappho was reputed to live, and write poetry that celebrated love for women. Lesbian is commonly understood to refer to sexual desire between women, however it is also understood to extend beyond choice of sexual partner to encompass a broader notion of a lesbian identity.

However, the notion of the lesbian as a personage or identity has only emerged since the late 1800s, where it was used by sexologists such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis to describe a sexual pervert or invert (see also pathologisation).

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Lesbian

In the bar culture of the 1950s and 1960s, lesbian identity has often been associated with butch/femme roles; these have in turn been critiqued for reproducing heterosexual roles (see Joan Nestle and Sally R Munt for refutations of this argument).

The Gay Liberation movement of the 1960s began to dispute the pathologisation of this identity, claiming a gay or lesbian identity as normal and natural. Lesbian feminism furthered this to argue not only for a distinctly lesbian identity, but to analyse this as a specifically political identity. It was argued by some lesbian feminists that sexuality was a matter of choice, rather than a natural given.

This stance was reflected in a paper called “The Woman-Identified Woman” written by the Lavender Menace in 1970. This paper

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Lesbian

argued that the woman-identified woman is a way of giving sexual, emotional, and political energy to other women and undermines patriarchal systems of power. The idea of choosing a lesbian identity also undermines the notion of a 'natural' sexuality or desire, an argument that Judith Butler analyses in Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter.

Adrienne Rich in 1980 proposed the 'lesbian continuum', according to which as range of relationships can be seen as lesbian: from close friendships (such as romantic friendships in the eighteenth century or Boston marriages in nineteenth century America) through to sexual relationships.

The woman-identified woman and the lesbian continuum have been criticised for their failure to account for a desire that is not attenuated by friendship or political positions.

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Other

The term Other has a wide and varied usage. Most generally it is used to refer to (what is perceived as) irreducible difference, such as gender, or race.

In existentialist terms, the other refers to the struggle for subjectivity between subjects: neither subject wants to be the other, reduced to the status of object. Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is widely credited with expounding this concept in relation to gender, arguing that woman is the other of man.

For psychoanalysis, the other is unknowable. Yet it is this unknowable other that structures subjectivity.

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Patriarchy

Very broadly, this refers to the systems of male oppression of women through political, economic, social, and discursive structures.

Various feminist positions understand patriarchy in different ways. A radical feminist analysis understands male power over women as a universal oppression, occurring primarily through biological sex and sexuality, particularly the sexual devaluation of women that has occurred throughout history. A marxist feminist approach may understand patriarchy in terms of a sexual division of labour that occurs within class systems. A poststructuralist feminist understanding of patriarchy could argue that it is phallogocentric language systems that maintain gendered positions within discourse (see also binary opposition).

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Patriarchy

The problem with the concept of patriarchy is that it is extremely broad, and therefore can be ahistorical and universalist. That is, it may not pay attention to specificities of a historical era (what is considered as gendered oppression may change over time), or may argue that the same forms of gender oppression occur in the same ways worldwide.

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Performing Gender

Theories of perfomativity draw on the influential work of Judith Butler.

Butler argues that gender is not natural, nor is it inscribed (written) onto a biological body or blank slate.

Rather, gender is discursively (see discourse) constructed and maintained. Gender is performed by individuals on a daily basis, and it is this performance that consolidates gender at a social and cultural level. In turn, social and cultural understandings of gender direct the gendered performances of individuals.

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Phallogocentrism

Used by Derrida to recognise not only a cultural emphasis on the spoken word (logocentrism), but particularly the gender based power structures of the spoken word. Phallogocentric language is rule-based, linear, structured, directive, and assertive.

Feminist theorists such as Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous have sought to consider and theorise a specifically feminine way of speaking and writing that is fluid, multiple and fragmented (see écriture féminine and jouissance).

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Pornographic

Sexually explicit and arousing material. Pornography is very difficult to define; it has been, and remains, a site of intense debate. This debate not only occurs between consumers and producers of pornography and feminists, but also between feminists.

The 1980s were famously known as the era of the 'sex wars' between 'pro-sex' or libertarian and 'radical' feminists. The radical feminist argument is that heterosex, and pornography in particular, enables men to maintain physical and social control over women. Pro-sex feminists argue that women need to be able to explore their sexuality and experience pleasure, that pornography can be used subversively and in play. Other feminists are concerned that if one calls for the censorship of pornography then this could be applied to other forms of sexually explicit material (safe sex information for example).

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Public and Private

The public/private is an example of a binary that has been utilised by feminist theorists to analyse the gendering of space.

The private is generally associated with the domestic and feminine, and the public is a masculine space—particularly the spheres of where decisions are made and laws passed. The legal and governmental systems are examples of the public sphere.

Thus the binary can be understood as an ideological division that maintains the marginalisation of women.

The second wave feminist movement coined the phrase “the personal is political,” which begins to break down the public/private divide by bringing the domestic (domestic violence for example) into the public sphere.

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Romance

Originally a term that described a genre which told tales of chivalry. Romanticism also refers to the aesthetic and artistic practices of eighteenth century thinkers and poets.

Romance novels are currently regarded as popular culture, and are specifically gendered in terms of a predominantly female readership, and the gender roles and heterosexual norms that they portray.

The assumption that people marry or form lifelong partnerships as a result of romantic love is a relatively recent one. In more modern terms, romance is often associated with love (rather than sexual desire). This notion of romantic love is a very idealised one (see the marketing of Valentine's Day for example).

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Romance

Kate Millett in Sexual Politics defines romantic love as a mechanism that apparently “renders void the woman's class inferiority.”

Feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir in the 1940s and Shulamith Firestone in the 1970s have critiqued the idea of romantic love, arguing that the structure of romantic love entails a woman giving up her self, and taking on the needs and desires of her male partner. It should be noted that this also assumes a heterosexual basis for romantic love.

For further reading, see Janice Radway's Reading the Romance.

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Sexual Politics

A term associated with Kate Millett which was revolutionary for the way in which it explicitly recognised the relations between the sexes as politicised rather than natural.

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Speaking and Reading Positions

Speaking and reading positions refer to the personal, social, and political framework from which a text is read. On a personal level, speaking or reading position may be affected by upbringing, personal experiences, factors such as class, race and gender also impact upon personal experiences. Social factors may include historical and geographic location and political climate, which also includes class, race, and gender. A political speaking or reading position may refer to an explicitly feminist stance.

In effect these three generally overlap as personal experiences impact upon political stance, and social factors influence both personal and political positions.

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Speaking and Reading Positions

Some feminist critics explicitly locate their reading position in relation to a text (i.e. their class, 'race', gender) in order to acknowledge points of identification and disidentification with a text, thereby problematising the notion that there is a universal reading position that transcends differences between readers.

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