School of Culture and Communication - Theses
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ItemFemale desire and agency in selected short stories by Lorrie Moore & Thrill: short storiesBarber, Emily Rose ( 2016)This dissertation employs Simone de Beauvoir’s and Jessica Benjamin’s theories of female subjectivity to perform a gynocritical feminist exploration of women’s desire and agency as depicted in selected short stories by Lorrie Moore. Examining Moore’s short stories ‘You’re Ugly, Too’ (Like Life 67–91), ‘Willing’ (Birds of America 5–25), ‘Two Boys’ (Like Life 3–19) and ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors: A Guide to the Tenor of Love’ (Self-Help 97–116), the thesis aims to discuss the ways in which Moore’s stories call into question both the objectification of women under patriarchy, and the impact that this objectification has on female subjectivity, desire and agency. It is my hypothesis that, key to Moore’s critique of the objectification of women, is the portrayal in her short fiction of straight women whose complex romantic and sexual encounters with men compromise their sense of themselves as subjects capable of desire and agency. My research attempts to show that Moore’s stories comment on the often-compromised desire and agency of women under patriarchy, and can be considered creative solutions to the question of how short fiction might function to broach the complexities of female subjectivity. The creative component of the dissertation, Thrill, comprises seventeen short stories that explore female desire and agency. Thrill responds to Moore’s work, and to the thinking of Beauvoir and Benjamin, by depicting young heterosexual women grappling with issues of desire, agency, and subjectivity. These stories hinge on the idea that female subjectivity is controlled and negated by a patriarchal sexual politics which is at its most potent in the interpersonal sexual arena.
ItemHow can we lose when we're so sincere?: A study of sincerity in autobiographical comicsBrialey, Leonie ( 2016)In the last twenty to thirty years there has been an increased emphasis on sincerity, in both critical writing and art practices across a variety of media. This thesis looks at how this emphasis on sincerity can be seen manifesting in autobiographical comics. Critical writing on autobiographical comics has tended to focus on authenticity or irony, and this thesis seeks to find out how sincerity is related to or differs from authenticity and irony in tone and register. It looks at how sincerity in autobiographic truth telling manifests in openness and intimacy, in a kinder, gentler tone (than irony or authenticity) and in providing comfort through both language and gesture; through not only the cartoonist’s words but through the cartoonist’s hand, and handwriting, on the comics page. The creative component of this thesis, Raw Feels, is a practical inquiry into how sincerity is written and drawn into autobiographical comics, and our lives in general. Being sincere can include being ironic and serious at the same time; Raw Feels attempts to inhabit this space and to take conventions of comics (such as the thought balloon) as seriously as possible in order to work through new ways of thinking about thinking and our bodies.
ItemBeneath the Long White Cloud: settler Chinese women's storytelling in Aotearoa New ZealandYee, Grace ( 2016)This thesis analyses settler Chinese women’s storytelling in Aotearoa New Zealand in order to articulate a conception of autonomous subjectivity within the context of hegemonic Colonialist Orientalist narratives. Utilising a bricolage methodology that combines the researcher’s creative writing with critical analyses of spoken and written stories, including interviews with authors, it focuses on Chinese women’s lived experiences and the narrative strategies they deploy. The prolonged absence of the feminine voice is barely acknowledged in extant studies of the settler Chinese community in New Zealand. Chinese women’s stories did not emerge in the public domain until the 1990s. While increased recognition of this writing appears to point to the country’s progress, Colonialist Orientalist narratives have continued to characterise Chinese women as either exotic and Oriental or assimilated and invisible, subordinating them in accord with a an enduring prototype: ‘Chinese woman’. I contend that the insidiousness of this prototype is reflected in its integration into settler Chinese women’s subjectivities, and in the stories they tell: both ‘inside’ the Chinese community, and ‘outside’ in the Pākehā mainstream. As such, it appears that there exists no space within which these women can express an autonomous subjectivity and thereby assert a ‘separate’ identity. This thesis is concerned with identifying such a space. Framed by key premises drawn from Judith Butler’s critical analysis of subjection, and with reference to Rey Chow’s analysis of Chinese woman’s subjectivity, Linda Alcoff’s positional feminism, Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical schema and Mary Ann Doane’s theory of femininity as ‘masquerade’, this research analyses the stories that settler Chinese women have told in diverse contexts including personal interviews and in their published writing. In these analyses, in which I conceive of storytelling as performance, I identify a range of narrative strategies through which autonomous subjectivities may be articulated and validated, and which have the potential to ground claims for previously unrecognised subject positions. The more explicitly imaginative creative writing in this thesis is also interrogative, and as such, has more than adjunctive value to the (more overtly) critical discussion. Chapter Five demonstrates a range of counterhegemonic narrative strategies in its juxtaposition of multiple genres including fictionalised autobiography, poetry, images and excerpts from mainstream New Zealand newspapers. Creative writing is also utilised to articulate an intimate conversation among Chinese women in Chapter Two, and in the autoethnographic narrative threads integrated into the critical discussion in most of the other chapters. The incorporation of this creative writing into the body of the thesis is intended to demonstrate that the language of traditional academic discourse alone is inadequate for the task of illuminating settler Chinese women’s subjectivity. It also reveals how the autonomy and agency of this Chinese woman writer – in the capacity of researcher – may be grounded in the transformation of the very language that has produced her as ‘Chinese woman’.
Item'Fleischgeist': subversive tropes of the flesh of 'Woman' and 'Animal' in selected novels by Angela Carter, Marie Darrieussecq and Deborah LevySinger, Hayley ( 2016)This dissertation offers an ecofeminist exploration of subversive tropes of the flesh in selected novels by Angela Carter, Marie Darrieussecq and Deborah Levy. The aim of this investigation is to discover how patriarchal and carnivorous ideologies can be disrupted through novelistic narrative, which incorporates particular tropes of ‘Woman’ and ‘Animal’. My hypothesis is that subversive tropes of the flesh portrayed in selected novels by Carter, Darrieussecq and Levy trouble the deadly authority of Western culture’s carnophallogocentric logic. That is, the logic underpinning material-semiotic practices that reduce women and nonhuman animals to objects of consumption. My research shows that subversive tropes of the flesh inform a specific narrative strategy found in all three novels examined: a subversive, double-voiced mimicry. It is my contention that Carter, Darrieussecq and Levy apply this form of parodic mimicry to trouble old narratives in new political ways. This study uses theoretical frameworks developed by Luce Irigaray, Mikhaïl Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva, Mary Russo, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Jacques Derrida, Linda Hutcheon and Matthew Calarco to explore how Carter, Darrieussecq and Levy portray sexist and speciest violence while foregrounding an ethical feminist allegiance to an embodied, relational and contingent aesthetic. Moreover, I consider the way this aesthetic collapses species boundaries by depicting meat as a substance of exposed embodiment and suffering shared by humans and other animals. I conclude this study by suggesting that the narrative experimentations developed by Carter, Darrieussecq and Levy jam the discursive functioning of the carnophallogocentric machine and offer new narrative models for writing beyond the ‘Fleischgeist’. Sleeper, a novella, engages the subversive tropes and narrative techniques examined in my literary-cultural analysis. Sleeper uses the language of carnophallogocentric oppression to stir up practices and politics of gender inequality in an Australian suburban setting. The narrator, Anna, plunges into a world where reality, dreams and hallucinations intermingle to form a landscape of actual and imagined human-animal death. Anna’s fictionalised world takes aim at the so-called authority of carnophallogocentrism.