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Title: Arachne's daughters : towards a feminist poetics of creative autonomy
Author: Richards, Jasmine
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Although in patriarchal narratives female characters who challenge the dominant power structures of the society in which they live are often condemned for their dangerous sexuality, intelligence and creativity, classical myth continues to be attractive to women writers. In developing their theories of feminist poetics, Nancy K. Miller, Naomi Schor, Patricia Joplin and Carolyn Helibrun interpret classical women associated with textile production (Arachne, Ariadne, Philomela and Penelope) as symbols of the woman as artist. There also exists a tradition of female authors rewriting ancient heroines as artists, weavers, storytellers and figures of female wisdom and prophetic power, whose stories have the power to provoke social change. I examine and adapt theories of authorship, influence and reception to a female writing subject. I apply this framework to three case studies, assessing the extent to which female authors have been successful in using classical myth to create positive representations of women, female creativity, voice and influence: the appropriation of Apuleius’ ‘Cupid and Psyche’ and Ovid’s Metamorphoses in fairytales by French salonnières, which then influence Angela Carter’s rewritings of La Belle et la Bête in The Bloody Chamber (1979); Mary Shelley’s reworking of Promethean myth and The Arabian Nights in Frankenstein (1818); and Margaret Atwood’s and Ursula Le Guin’s re-figurations of classical heroines in The Penelopiad (2005) and Lavinia (2008). While these authors present interesting and effective techniques of rewriting, they sometimes reproduce a negative discourse of female creative inadequacy and authorial anxiety that does not reflect historical and contemporary reality. Extending Nancy K. Miller’s theory of ‘Arachnologies,’ I have developed a new framework for reading women’s rewriting practices. My feminist poetics of creative autonomy accurately reflects the woman writer’s sophisticated and creative dialogue with the classics and her relationship to the literary cultures and reading communities with which she identifies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available