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Title: Female fantasy, pornography and censorship : a presentation of women's writing to redress the imbalance in phallocentric culture's portrayal of female desire
Author: Davis, Caroline Suzanne
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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The thesis specifically examines the issue of censorship of pornography from a variety of feminist perspectives. It proceeds to offer alternatives to censorship. Literature, specifically women writing, is evaluated as distinct from other forms of pornography. The female voice and the unique nature of women’s relationship to language are explored. Female fantasy, combined with a literary approach to the representation of human sexual relations, is offered up as a way of redressing the phallocentric nature of traditional forms of pornography. The thesis examines the evidence in favour of, and against, censorship. The study approaches the problems and possible repercussions of understanding any form of literature as primarily political and propagandist, and secondarily as art. The evidence presented to suggest the failure of censorship is argued to be incontrovertible. An historical case, that of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, clearly demonstrates the contradictory and problematic nature of censorship of literature. Various feminist discourses are employed to suggest ways of reading and writing that can more fully unite representation of female desire with the experience of it. A carefully chosen non-literary source (Nancy Friday) is employed to enrich and focus on female fantasy. ‘Artistry’ and ‘erotica’ as distinct from ‘pornography’ are highlighted through analysis of the work of Jeanette Winterson. The thread that connects the Sadeian text with modern attempts at artistic pornographic writing is identified and considered in connection to Angela Carter’s work. The phallocentric nature of language, and obsession with the romance genre is evaluated through readings of Kathy Acker. The freedom of the female writer who engages with the pornographic is recognised as both limited and endless with the insight of Pat Califia. The relationship of ‘female pornography’ - as a distinct and empowering discourse - to the dominant discourse is carefully considered and integrated into the study. The value of language, and literature, is identified in the unique way that it creates a pornographic moment which cannot be located in the same way in non-literary pornography. Language functions as a mode of translating culture and ideology and a key argument of this thesis is that literature is the place where much of this translation takes place. The thesis analyses the approach of specific authors with different concerns and literary backgrounds to demonstrate the way in which literature can reveal possibilities for positive representations of all varieties of human sexuality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available