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Title: Beyond images of the female body : dynamics of gender and discourses of power in Walter Scott's Waverly novels
Author: MacKinnon, Chriselle
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 0269
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores ways in which female identity and experience, as depicted in Walter Scott's Waverley Novels, can be understood as being shaped by dominant patriarchal discourses of power. Scott's novels were written at a time when the organising structures of society were changing, and it will be argued here that they explore how power is formed, where power is located and how prevailing discourses of power may be resisted and destabilised. It is proposed that in Scott's work acts of feminine subversion not only bring about reflection upon the driving forces which repress the feminine but symbolise a rupture to established rules and conventions. Chapter one considers gender identity in terms of fluidity and argues that although produced by social conventions gender can be manipulated. Exploring Scott's fiction within the paradigm of Judith Butler's theories on gender performativity, the extent to which female characters have agency to change the script of their gender identity is explored. Chapter two examines low-class, unruly and grotesque female characters who become public spectacles displaced to the peripheries of society. It is claimed that these disempowered characters come to be, in Julia Kristeva's terms, 'abject' and since they operate beyond the dominant 'symbolic order' they are threatening entities who challenge hierarchical assumptions. Chapter three focuses on upper-class heroines who, under pervasive modes of coercion, are denied fulfilment of personal desires thus rebel by withdrawing into, what Kristeva defines, the 'semiotic' realm. This discussion contends that although these women are fated to death they nevertheless become catalysts for reflection upon male bias and corruption within highly regulated societies. Overall, this thesis uncovers that gender concerns are embedded in Scott's fiction, and that radical ideas about female subjectivity, forms of knowledge and power are explored in his work. It argues that Scott suggests women may subvert and resist patriarchy as a grand narrative.
Supervisor: Lumsden, Alison ; Schell, Patience Alexandra Sponsor: University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available