The women's room : women and the confessional mode
This thesis analyses the cultural work performed by confessional discourses. It contributes to feminist cultural theory by refining and extending the Foucauldian theory of confession through a comparison of the cultural instrumentality of the mainstream, male-authored confession and women's versions of the mode. The thesis begins by arguing that though the mainstream, male-authored confession constructs and addresses a mutable subject suited to the requirements of modern power techniques, the polyvalence of confessional discourse also registers a resistance to subjection to contemporary forms of power/knowledge. The second section of the thesis extends and refines this argument by contending that the gynocentric deployment of confession by the woman's confessional novel produces a double-voiced discourse, which mutedly resists patriarchal forms of femininity. The application of psycho-analytic literary theory to a close reading of Marilyn French's The Women's Room leads to the conclusion that this novel's deployment of confessional discourse allows for a muted venting of repressed active female desire. The third section of the thesis extends the preceding examination of the cultural work performed by gynocentric confessional discourse through an analysis of the madefor- TV-movie version of French's The Women's Room. This section argues that that though the application of a film studies and a TV studies approach to the movie appears to produce two contradictory readings of it s cultural instrumentality, this divergence results from the different emphases of film and TV theory: while film theory emphasises text at the expense of context, TV theory tends to reverse this trend. In conclusion, the thesis argues that discourse theory points the way towards a perspective which can address the relationship between textual and social subjects. This thesis examines the textual negotiation of confessional discourse by gynocentric forms; it also points towards the need for a perspective which can more adequately address the question of reception as negotiation.