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Title: The voice of cloth in Yvonne Vera's fiction
Author: Hemmings, Jessica
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 6175
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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Documentation of the presence and purpose of cloth as metaphor, structure and object in Yvonne Vera's fiction illuminates the innovations present in the author's published fiction. Vera's confrontation of the often silenced experiences of rape, incest, abortion and infanticide explain the author's commitment to the exploration of alternative narrative strategies. The structure of the thesis finds inspiration in the embroidery sampler, a piece of stitched cloth onto which many different styles of stitches are tested but is nonetheless whole. In this research the production and consumption of cloth is understood to represent a domestic graphology, a term coined by Vera in her own Ph.D. which refers to communication that goes unnoticed by conventional discourse because of the domestic and therefore seemingly inconsequential materials appropriated to convey information. After contextualizing Vera's fiction through brief comparisons to Dambudzo Marechera, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Chenjerai Hove, research turns to the skin and hair of characters and observes that it is treated much like cloth in order to expose the extent of alienation caused by racism. The inverse of this idea, the notion that clothing is in fact a "second skin" reveals the economic hardships of Vera's settings and the hopeless optimism offered by the opportunity to purchase or exchange' one skin for another. Characters relate to the spaces they inhabit with a fragmented sense of the world around them. This fragmentation can be understood through Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's notion of smooth space (felted cloth) and striated space (woven cloth) and is helpful in understanding the extent of the damage caused by mental and physical pain. Finally Vera's texts contain fragments of an unassembled quilt which rejects the possibility ofrepair due to the nature of the crimes recorded upon the various remnants of cloth scattered throughout the texts. Apparent throughout Vera's fiction is a theme of empowering violence which results in a systematic rejection of motherhood for her female characters. Motherhood as a creative act is replaced by a heightened awareness of the creative value of cloth. Throughout the texts, textiles assist in the process of exposure, mourning, and recovery from the damning experiences Vera's characters endure.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available