The different lives of motherless daughters in contemporary Scottish women’s fiction

Lyle, Gina Alexandra (2018) The different lives of motherless daughters in contemporary Scottish women’s fiction. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis concerns itself with the narratives of ‘motherless’ daughters in contemporary Scottish women’s fiction, analysing the formation of identity in those with a complicated relationship to their maternal figures. Discussion will centre on three texts by contemporary Scottish women writers that feature young daughters; Jackie Kay’s 'The Adoption Papers' (1991), Jenni Fagan’s 'The Panopticon' (2012) and Ali Smith’s 'How to be Both' (2014). Though the nature of these daughters’ motherlessness varies, from adoption, to location within a care institute, there are many similarities in how these characters adapt to their situations and perceive the world around them, which will be examined with regard to feminist understandings of motherhood within a politicised contemporary setting. The goal of this work is to map the processes by which children experiencing motherlessness understand their situations and learn to find or supplement motherly guidance and support, from within themselves, in artistic pursuits as well as in surrogate mothers. This thesis will make use of the Kristevan concept of the semiotic chora to consider the relationship between daughters and their mothers, and consider the roles that choric qualities, such as timelessness and non-verbalism, play in the identity formation of the daughters. Though the title appreciates the different lives of the texts’ daughters, this thesis intends to demonstrate that there are many similarities in how motherless daughters feel and respond when confronted with oppressive power structures, and in how they cope with motherlessness through attempts to access the choric realm.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Postgraduate Research Award for Scottish Literature.
Keywords: Scottish literature, feminism, semiotic chora, daughters, mothers, Jackie Kay, Jenni Fagan, Ali Smith, absent mothers.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Van Heijnsbergen, Dr. Theo and Kirsteen, Professor McCue
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Miss Gina Lyle
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8977
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 09:18
Last Modified: 03 May 2018 07:43
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8977

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