School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Narratives of emergence
    Hills, Katherine Janet ( 2010)
    This thesis is a two-pronged creative and critical exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and female subjectivities as they emerge from or remain entwined within that relationship. Within this analysis, I also explore the tensions between female subjective crisis and agency, as they extend from the mother-daughter relationship. The critical component focusses on two autobiographical texts of twentieth-century French author, Violette Leduc. These texts, L’Asphyxie (1946) and La Bâtarde (1964), were originally published in French. However, I refer to the translations by Derek Coltman. Primarily, my questions investigate the ambivalence of the mother-daughter dynamic in Leduc’s texts and the impact of this ambivalence on female subjectivities. With the aid of object-relational theory and the psychoanalytic theories of Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray, I explore how Leduc’s psychological patterns inform her textual practice and narrative temporality. In doing so, I propose that Leduc’s writing conveys female subjective crisis as a manifestation of the psychic struggle between the unconscious influences of both the paternal and maternal imaginaries and her personal, human desires for liberation from homogenous and suppressive sex/gender categories. I conclude that through a process of writing that engages “negative narcissism,” mimesis, and transgressive sexuality as modes of resistance, Leduc negotiates a stronger sense of herself, as an empowered figure of resistance, both inside and outside the text. The creative component, Spin is an autobiographically based novella dealing with similar complexities in the mother-daughter relationship. I approach subjective crisis from multiple angles, in its relationship to embodiment, gender, sexuality, agency and desire. Set in contemporary Melbourne, the narrative is staged around the residual pain of familial dysfunction. I explore melancholic attachment, alienation and the ambivalence of the mother-daughter dynamic from the perspective of a daughter, struggling to escape the legacy of a disturbing Tasmanian childhood, with a mentally unwell, absent mother and a father with Asperger’s syndrome.