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Title: Taboo and transgression : reconfiguring the monstrous in contemporary British fiction
Author: Byatt, Jim
ISNI:       0000 0004 2692 7269
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis considers the remaindered other in contemporary British society, and the representation of that other in British fiction since 1968. The liberal approach to otherness that has arguably been a defining characteristic of the British identity since the Second World War has, I argue, always been incomplete, leaving a remainder to whom equal representation and cultural acceptance have been denied. By examining a diverse range of texts which address an equally diverse range of identities, this thesis addresses the questions of what otherness means in contemporary society, how it manifests and manages itself, and how the fiction of the period addresses the social anomaly. In recent studies of controversial fiction, there has been a tendency to focus either on the aesthetics of excess (eg. Durand and Mandel, 2006), in which the transgression is primarily stylistic, or else on the marginality of the now-legitimised “other” (in particular the homosexual, the racial other, or the working class; eg. Nicola Allen, 2008). In contrast, this thesis examines novels that engage with those figures who have remained socially excluded, figures whose tabooed identity has persisted in spite of the broader move toward liberal inclusivity. The primary texts discussed are, largely, novels that have received little critical attention, despite their literary credibility, highlighting a reluctance to engage with those problematic identities that remain outside the realm of cultural legitimacy. The thesis positions the criminally transgressive (the paedophile, the incestuous family, the sociopath) alongside the culturally stigmatised (the disabled, the elderly and the dying) in an attempt to demonstrate a continuity of resistance to a diverse range of tabooed identities. Theoretically, the argument draws on aspects of cultural studies, structuralism, anthropology and disability studies in order to examine the representation of the tabooed voice and to consider its legitimacy in the contemporary literary field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: H Social Sciences (General) ; PR English literature