Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Valerio Ferme

Second Advisor

Dorothea Olkowski

Third Advisor

Karen Jacobs

Fourth Advisor

Eric White

Fifth Advisor

Suzanne Magnanini

Abstract

The process of representation, which has been diagnosed at the root of our Western drive to know, according to modern thinkers, is inseparable from the imperial speaking subject. Such realization has led to a crisis in subjectivity that has forced us to question notions that in the past have anchored our sense of legitimacy. In literature, this crisis has been articulated as the dissolutions of the paternal fiction, understood as the guarantor of our heritage. In response to this crisis, however, we have turned away from the parental metaphor and searched for new spaces in which this loss can be reaffirmed—and these spaces, which are often represented as disruptive, have been ironically gendered feminine. This research project explores a literary model whose mechanics in the text position the feminine via forms of negation or plot inconsistencies. The purpose is to lay bare a crucial preoccupation that can be traced back and interrelated to the political, social, literary, and/or religious problems that are plaguing authors who unconsciously incorporate this model in their text. In constructing and displacing gender relations, these writers not only lay bare the problems of their society, but at the same time displace them in order to propose more democratic options for the unsatisfactory state of current affairs. The point at issue is how this model operates, on both overt and covert levels, to unveil and displace the dominant ideology and how it accomplishes this by appropriating and displacing specific gendered power relations in order to promote something new. It is therefore no coincidence that the unconscious textual mechanics found in these texts lend themselves to a psychoanalytic reading that centers on trauma and repression, as evidenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and Gilles Deleuze’s theories on repetition.

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