Amy Kahrmann Huseby deposited “Half Poets” and “Whole Democrats”: The Politics of Poetic Aggregation in Aurora Leigh in the group TC Marxism, Literature, and Society on MLA Commons 5 years, 3 months ago
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh seeks to redress the divisive work of women’s democratic political representation by way of poetic form to ask whether women must always be regarded as partial citizens. Women are not counted as integral units—ones—politically or culturally. Barrett Browning connects women’s ability to produce writing and children to formulate a corrective political relationship between women’s being halves and pieces on the one hand and their capacity for generativity on the other. Constructing a parallel between Aurora’s poetic body and the body of a rape victim, Barrett Browning makes the point that for women being counted politically always involves a divided self. Refusing to understand citizenship as either the elimination of individuality or as the fusion of individuals into a mass, Barrett Browning uses poetic form to construct a political wholeness that is at once not satisfying, for it requires the acknowledgement of the inequities that women endure, and preferable to a totalizing democratic citizenship that boils all voices down to the tyrannical majority.