In the beginning there was . . . the beginning. And with the
beginning came the power to tell a story. Few book-length studies
of narrative beginnings exist, and not one takes a feminist
perspective. Opening Acts reveals the important role of beginnings
as moments of discursive authority with power and agency that have
been appropriated by writers from historically marginalized groups.
Catherine Romagnolo argues for a critical awareness of how social
identity plays a role in the strategic use and critical
interpretation of narrative beginnings. The twentieth-century U.S.
women writers whom Romagnolo studies—Edith Wharton, H.D., Toni
Morrison, Julia Alvarez, and Amy Tan—have seized the power to
disrupt conventional structures of authority and undermine
historical master narratives of marriage, motherhood, U.S.
nationhood, race, and citizenship. Using six of their novels as
points of entry, Romagnolo illuminates the ways in which beginnings
are potentially subversive, thereby disrupting the reinscription of
hierarchically gendered and racialized conceptions of authorship