Technoscience vs. Teknon-Science: The Tragedy Of The Female Scientist In Cynthia Ozick’s Puttermesser And Xanthippe




Cynthia Ozick, technoscience, technofeminism, Puttermesser and Xanthippe, childbirth metaphor, female scientist as procreator, golem


This paper aims to explore from a technofeminist standpoint this failure to enunciate a ‘feminine’ technoscientific praxis in the Puttermesser and Xanthippe episode of Cynthia Ozick’s 1997 ‘serial’ novel The Puttermesser Papers. In particular, there is a tragic failure to integrate procreative ethos and creative technoscience: when the latter is placed in the service of the former, the curse of Frankenstein rears its ugly head, and catastrophe ensues. The female scientist, a Jewish polymath like Ruth Puttermesser who creates a female golem to save New York, in releasing procreativity from the necessity of heterosexual reproduction, unwittingly unleashes a plague of ‘hyperfemininity’ that threatens to destroy culture. Thus, the break from the biological restraints of procreation and the establishment of a utopian femarche (female rule) are deconstructed, parodied, and retrospectively opposed as destructive, while the figure of the female savant / scientist emerges as a tragic one, torn between the need to nurture, and the catastrophic consequences of that need.

Author Biography

Christina Dokou, The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Dr. Christina Dokou is Assistant Professor of American Literature and Culture in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She is the author of several articles and book chapters on subjects including Greek myth in American literature, psychoanalytic criticism, Comics Studies, theoretical approaches to American Folklore, and Gender Studies. She is the co-editor of two scholarly volumes, The Periphery Viewing the World: Selected Papers the 4th International Conference of the Hellenic Association for the Study of English (Athens, Parousia, 2004), and The Letter of the Law: Justice, Literature and the Other (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2013). She has served, in various positions, on the board of the Fulbright Alumni in Greece and the Hellenic Association for the Study of English and is currently Secretary of the Board of the Hellenic Association for American Studies.


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How to Cite

Dokou, C. (2022). Technoscience vs. Teknon-Science: The Tragedy Of The Female Scientist In Cynthia Ozick’s Puttermesser And Xanthippe. Baltic Journal of English Language, Literature and Culture, 12, 20–29.