Re-working the magic, 1978-2001 : a parallel study of six Scottish women writers of the late twentieth century : Margaret Elphinstone, Alison Fell, Sian Hayton, Ali Smith, Emma Tennant and Alice Thompson

Germanà, Monica (2004) Re-working the magic, 1978-2001 : a parallel study of six Scottish women writers of the late twentieth century : Margaret Elphinstone, Alison Fell, Sian Hayton, Ali Smith, Emma Tennant and Alice Thompson. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3113055

Abstract

Re-Working the Magic is a parallel study of six Scottish women writers from the late twentieth century: Margaret Elphinstone, Alison Fell, Sian Hayton, Ali Smith, Emma Tennant and Alice Thompson. The thesis analyses the fiction produced by the authors between 1978 and 2001, the publication dates of Emma Tennant's The Bad Sister (1978) and Ali Smith's Hotel World (2001). The time-span selected for the present study focuses on a renewed interest in a traditional theme in Scottish literature: magic.

Four tropes are identified as the main thematic vehicles of magic in the works of the six authors: ghosts; witches; doubles and magical journeys. These cultural archetypes all embody the relationship between the seen and the unseen, as in all the analysed texts magic is not a foreign concept, nor is it constricted to a parallel world. Rather than portraying marvellous otherworlds, in the analysed texts magic belongs to a world recognisable by both character and reader. The immanent aspect of magic accentuates its subversive nature: since it happens in a rationally ordered world, the irrational and inexplicable nature of magic creates tension and defies the order of the world it stems from.

Facilitated by the employment of the four archetypal tropes, the texts engage with various traditions - literature, ballad, myth - the relationship with the past tradition is facilitated through several intertextual strategies including parody, pastiche and rewriting of traditional texts, myths and folk- and fairytales. While links to Scottish fantasy literature and folk tradition are stressed throughout the analysis of the six authors' works, the nature of this thesis questions boundaries of nationality and gender, in view of relevant postcolonialist and feminist literary theories.

The Appendix, which includes interviews with five of the authors, endorses the investigation of questions about the meaning of Scottishness and female writing. The challenge to the patriarchal models offered by 'mainstream' tradition is a constant reminder of the need for flexibility when considering boundaries. While analysing the use of recurring magic tropes and non-realistic genres, this thesis will also approach specific issues about gender and nationality raised by the authors' texts and interviews.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Riach, Dr. Alan and Gifford, Professor Douglas
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-82449
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2021 15:34
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 15:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82449
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82449

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