Difference, identification and desire : contemporary lesbian genre fiction
The focus of this dissertation entitled 'Difference, Identification & Desire: Contemporary Lesbian Genre Fiction' is the representation of lesbian identity in four contemporary popular lesbian genres: autobiographical fiction, speculative fiction, romance fiction and crime fiction. The aim of the dissertation is three-fold. Firstly, it seeks to acknowledge and celebrate the large variety of representations of lesbianism produced by lesbian writers working with popular forms of the novel during the past twenty five years. Secondly, it explores the ways in which lesbian writers have reworked popular genres in order to highlight lesbian and feminist concerns and to depict aspects of lesbian existence. It analyzes the effects of introducing discourses of lesbianism into the plots of popular genres, showing how the latter have been subverted or adapted by lesbian use. Thirdly, the thesis seeks to specify the ways in which the generic forms themselves, according to their own codes and conventions, shape and mediate the representation of lesbian identity in the text. In addition to this focus, the dissertation traces a number of themes and concerns across and within the four genres under discussion. These include the relationship in the texts between the sign 'lesbian' and the discourse of feminism, and the oscillation between the representation of lesbian sexual identity in terms of woman-identification and difference-between women. The aim throughout the analysis of contemporary lesbian genre fiction is to identify both that which is specific to lesbian representation and that which is characteristic of the particular genre under discussion. The dissertation represents a contribution to three areas of literary study: Genre Studies and Feminist Studies in general, and to Lesbian Studies in particular.