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Title: Bare essentials : gender fictions, embodiment matters
Author: Xinari, Charis
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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If sex and gender, and ultimately our bodies are discursive constructions, then where is woman’s subjectivity grounded and what are the implications of such an approach to subjectivity for political efficacy? According to Meleau-Ponty ‘existence realises itself on the body’. If the body is the locus of subjectivity then it is to the matter of embodiment, as substance and as point of concern, which we need to turn in order to discuss the development of subjectivity, and gender subjectivity in particular. This thesis deals with the notion of gender as embodied practice and looks at the transgender subject – both transvestite and transsexual – as addressing the matter of embodiment located primarily in transsexuality’s desire to occupy material body. In the association that it establishes between gender practices and an experience of the ‘flesh as the flesh itself’ as defining subjectivity, the transsexual body, ‘the matter of embodiment’ as it has been argued, opens up a space for the reconsideration of the matter of embodiment altogether. Such concerns are addressed through a reading of the transsexual body via the work of Merleau-Ponty, Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler in the first part of the thesis. The second part develops the ideas stemming from these readings through the work of Angela Carter with a particular focus on embodiments of woman/hood in Nights at the Circus and The Passion of New Eve. Carter’s interest in the material conditions of woman, her concern with ‘demythologising’ women, as well as the bodily resistance – the body’s resistance to be consumed by and within discursive powers – embodied in her work, serve as the space for a re-examination of the role of the body in the development of gender subjectivity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available