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New Heroines

Living in an age of Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and an ever growing array of websites for young creatives it seems an apt time to reignite some debate around the archive. Seventeen years ago, in 1995, Jacques Derrida published his book Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression in which he set about deconstructing this dusty subject. Exposing the notorious hegemony that traditionally encased the archive Derrida sought to uncover some of the functions of preservation. Does the archive serve to overcome the inevitable and looming fear of our own mortality – the Freudian ‘death-drive’? At the dawn of the Internet age, Derrida asked what affect, or threat, does technology impose on the archive?

In the years since Derrida’s book the online frenzy has certainly dwarfed any modest expectations of technology. The rapid takeover of social networking and the online diary (from Tumblr and Insagram, to Facebook and blog-posting) has opened a space for an entirely new writer and has offered a new kind of archive, a platform on which female writers are beginning to take centre stage.

Jacques Derrida, author of Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (1995)

Female authors, journalists, thinkers, fashionistas and artists are using the Internet to publish discussions, writing, diaries and archiving what they do. This unsanctioned space has also been utilized to pose debates on interesting topics by important female figures. For instance, author Masha Tupitsyn used Twitter as a platform to discus her essays on love (soon to become a book), or Chris Kraus’ blog, Reality Sandwich, which frequently probes the heart of women’s topics as well as the inestimable number of budding fashionistas, artists and writers using social media to showcase their work.

Heroines by Kate Zambreno (2012)

Are these women transforming the stigma associated with female authors’ memoirs that have long been dismissed as “girls diaries”? Travel back to the pre-Internet age of Modernism and the memoirs of female authors, usually overlooked or reduced to the genre of “automatic” writing, have always stood at odds with the heroized memoirs and letters of Modernist male writers. A topic that writer Kate Zambreno has sought to investigate and expel in her recent book called Heroines.

Amongst the cast of female Modernist writers whom Zambreno has written of are Virginia Wolfe, Zelda Fitzgerald, Vivienne Eliot and Jane Bowles. A notably common characteristic of all these women being their apparent ‘madness’, the stigma that seems to be freely attached to many women writers of the time.

Vivienne Eliot (wife of T. S. Eliot)

Has technology created a new space in which women can write, record, review or publish their work and ideas freely? This new ‘archive’ has certainly acquired with it a new and more vocal female and, unchallenged, female creativity is flourishing in a global space that is only set to grow.