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Title: Gothic incest: transgression and counter-hegemony
Author: Diplacidi, Jenny
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2012
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In this thesis I will analyze representations of incest in the Gothic from 1764-1847 and argue that the genre's critical genealogy, beginning with its contemporary reception, has viewed the Gothic as divided into a male tradition or its female counter, and subsequently informed understandings of incest as having distinct meanings produced by their presence in works designated as male or female. Although feminist criticism from the 1970s onwards has demonstrated that women writers articulated subversive views in the Gothic, such analyses have relied on psychological and sociological theories of incest that frequently reproduce gendered di visions and fai l comprehensively to address the incest thematic. It is instead essential to do away with the genre's gendered bifurcation and employ a broad methodological framework that applies the insights in recent work by anthropologists, feminist, social, and queer theorists, geneticists, and legal and social historians to specific incestuous configurations. In so doing, I argue that the genre's complex depictions and disruptions of eighteenth-century ideologies of gender and sexuality are revealed through incestuous desires, threats, violence and transgressions. This thesis is comprised of five chapters that explore the social, sexual and legal anxieties underlying representations of incest in different family relationships in the Gothic and contextualizes these accounts within analytic lenses suited to the particular kinship bond. It examines the ability of father-daughter incest to offer female sexual agel]cy and to breakdown the exchange of women, and investigates the potential for equality in _sibling relationships that troubled contemporary ideas of desire and laws as ,inherent~y-natural or-unnatural. It explores the sexual threats of uncles towards nieces that literalize the female body's status as property, and how cousin marriage negotiated the changing status of family and the conflict between individual desires and obligation to the family as state. It analyzes how mother-son incest exposes the inadequacy of availab le gender and sexual ideologies to account for female desire, agency and aggression. Through these analyses I argue that Gothic writers use the incest convention in order to reveal the arbitrary legal, economic and social limitations on behaviour that are enforced by heteronormative culture and offer alternative models of family, sexuality and desire that counter the hegemony.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available