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Sono mama: what goes without saying, right up until now?

Clarke, Jennifer


Jennifer Clarke


Roland Barthes Reading Group


I was moved to respond to the request to reflect on my experience of the Roland Barthes Reading Group partly because of the beautiful phrasing around ‘the situation of encounter'. I had joined this group as a visitor, intent only on dipping my toe into an unfamiliar eddy of words and thoughts after a period of maternity leave from my regular role as a lecturer at an art school. The idea of being just a visitor was glorious: here was an opportunity to listen, not speak, to be a good guest, observe and appreciate, connect, perhaps respond. Really, I wanted to find out what the addition of a baby might make to my capacity to do any of those, especially at the same time. The text excerpt we read aloud together was entitled 'Setting a Bell Ringing', and in the reverberation of sound and metaphor, question and response, I found myself, again, for a moment. I was pleased by the selection and with what came along with it, recognising that my years of living and working in Japan brought some pertinent experience. The reverberations also sounded a lot like a previous life, or lives, of mine, lived in the seminar room of a university—sitting close, close reading, slow reading, aloud.


CLARKE, J. 2021. Sono mama: what goes without saying, right up until now? In The Roland Barthes Reading Group (eds.) Setting a bell ringing. The constellations, 17. London: MA Bibliothèque, pages 31-39.

Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2021
Publication Date May 31, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 2, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 1, 2023
Publisher MA Bibliothèque
Pages 31-39
Series Title The constellations
Series Number 17
Book Title Setting a bell ringing
ISBN 9781910055816
Keywords Poetry; Japan; Literary interpretation; Reading groups; Feminism
Public URL
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Additional Information The print copy of this book is available for purchase from the publisher's website: