School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Female desire and agency in selected short stories by Lorrie Moore & Thrill: short stories
    Barber, 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.