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Title: Sexual difference in postmodern American fiction : Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason and Jayne Anne Phillips
Author: Price, Joanna
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1992
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The dissertation presents an analysis of the construction of sexual difference in selected works of postmodern American fiction. The concept of postmodernism is used here to connote those texts which articulate a dialectic between the aesthetics of modernism and that of American consumer culture. The writers who are the subject of the thesis, striving to create a language which both represents and questions the formation of subjectivity in this culture, have produced new, stylized forms of realism. Each writer explores the tension within postmodern culture between· homogenization and the creation of the possibility of the expression of differences, and foregrounds the construction of sexual identity as the point at which this conflict is most radically staged. War - primarily the Second World War and the war in vietnam - is frequently the reference point for an exploration of the destabilization and reconstitution of sexual identity. The introductory chapter considers the inflections of the concepts of postmodernism and sexual difference in critical debates from the 1950s through the 1980s, with specific reference to the shifts charted by the works of Thomas Pynchon. In the next three chapters an analysis is made of Pynchon's extensive exploration, articulated along a trajectory from a self-conscious experimentalism to a new form of realism, of the fantasies of sexual identity which underpin contemporary American discourses of power. Particular attention is paid to his representation of the repetition of certain configurations of masculinity and femininity through the aesthetics of the fin de siecle Decadence, Modernism, Fascism and consumer culture. These configurations are also identified in the works of Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason and Jayne Anne Phillips, whose writing is examined in the remaining three chapters as being representative of a new school of realist writing which 'emerged in the States in the 1980s. The project of postmodernist writers is assessed through an analysis of the way in which the stylistic concerns of these writers are bound to an exploration of gender in consumer culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available