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Title: Reading writing : contriving to see feminist voices
Author: Knowles Elizabeth, E. A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis sets out to engage its readers in an exploration into the possibilities of encapsulating feminist perspective in the grammatical resources of English. It takes a problematizing course. Along the way it shows how patriarchal discourse works to sustain its illusion. To put the primary focus simply: what does it mean to feminists to say something happened rather than I did something? This question then leads me to wonder about other aspects of speaking and writing feminisms. I approach these matters by reading feminist discourses through literary texts by women. I take literature as a way of enabling me to image what the consequences of writing in a particular way might be. In Frankenstein’s (grammatical) ways of eluding responsibility for his actions I find a prophetic warning to feminists looking for ways to erase their selves from text. In response, I look for ways of representing a double self, a self who acts with intention even as s/he cannot know all of what s/he does, and find something of this in the grammar of Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’, whilst Zora Neale Hurston’s writing sounds a multiple and contradictory self. I begin to suggest that the double status of innocence and guilt has parallels in reading practice: that patriarchal discourse only succeeds where we read success into it. This is one of the stories of ‘A Country House’ by Dorothy Edwards. Reading becomes as significant as writing. In the light of all that I have garnered, I then put feminist discourses under detailed scrutiny: in particular, I read Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose, and Maggie Humm. I conclude by showing how other feminist concepts, such as women’s time and border crossings, might be embodied in grammar, turning again to the imaginative work of Angela Carter for illumination. Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage echoes through my text. The strategy of the thesis is to produce close readings of texts of all kinds, readings which turn on grammatical analysis but which emphasize the multiplicity of meanings to be found. It aims to advance the project of feminist stylistics. At different moments it calls on Michael Halliday, Randolph Quirk et al, Raymond Williams, Stanley Fish, Deirdre Burton, bell hooks, Drucilla Cornell, Elizabeth Ermarth and Diane Elam, amongst others. There is no adherence to any one version of feminism but rather an attempt to show how all feminists might engage further with the issues of how they read and write. The conversational style of the thesis is intended to evoke such engagement.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available