Writing so to Speak: The Feminist Dystopia

Mahoney, Elisabeth (1994) Writing so to Speak: The Feminist Dystopia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to highlight a neglected tradition of women's experimentation with the dystopian genre. The dystopia has been marginalised in critical work on speculative fiction as a sub-genre of the utopia; I argue here for a reading of the 'bad place' as a distinctive and potentially radical genre. The thesis concentrates on contemporary women's fiction (post-1969) and two issues in particular. In the first part of the study, I focus on texts such as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Michele Roberts' The Book of Mrs Noah, and Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue, to examine the ways in which feminist writers use the non-realist form of the dystopia to foreground and challenge the cultural silencing of women. I discuss literary form, narrative authority, and language as especially important areas in this challenge. In the second part, I describe the dystopia as a subversive representational space in which the construction of feminine identity can be re-imagined. To demonstrate this, I consider the representation of the maternal body; feminine desire, and gender and space. Primary texts here include Angela Carter's Heroes and Villains, Elizabeth Baines' The Birth Machine, and Rebecca Brown's The Terrible Girls. I am also interested in points of connection between the feminist dystopia and feminist critical theory. My readings of the primary texts also consider feminist theoretical work on language, motherhood, the female body, and desire. An historical overview of the feminist dystopia is provided in the form of a primary bibliography (1877-1993).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Patrick Reilly
Keywords: Comparative literature
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-74666
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 17:17
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 17:17
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74666

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