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