Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Jeremy Green

Abstract

Kathryn Davis holds a marginal position in the current literary canon, having received little critical recognition for her six experimental novels. This thesis will explore three of her texts, Hell (1998), The Walking Tour (1999), and The Thin Place (2006), as innovative commentaries on domestic space and women‟s relationship to this space in a contemporary world. Davis‟ works engage with the highly complicated and controversial concept of “the domestic” as well as women‟s ongoing negotiation with this contested space. In order to analyze how Davis creates and revises the homes and the female characters in her novels, this thesis will apply both feminist and postmodern theories of space and home to her works. These theories will elucidate Davis‟ interpretation of the pertinent postmodern and feminist concerns regarding how to live in a world of inversion, uncertainty and infinite possibility. This thesis will argue that Davis deconstructs domestic spaces that limit women to the role of housewife, revealing the problems inherent within the patriarchal model of private spheres. With the uncomfortable and oppressive realities of the traditional relationship between homes and women laid bare, Davis struggles to conceptualize a new home, a home that both functions in an ever-evolving late postmodern world that also promotes women‟s agency. Through three of her novels that all address this problem, Davis‟ view of the domestic shifts from hopeless destruction, to infinite imagination, to her final answer: a home built on communal relationships with nature and spirituality that provides women with active, meaningful subjectivity.

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