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Title: Ecofeminism and the deconstruction of dualisms : theorising contemporary American women's writing
Author: Khalil, Sara Abdelsabour Rady
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 5268
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2018
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Drawing on the thinking of feminism and ecocriticism, ecofeminism’s main premise is that the patriarchal ideology legitimising the oppression of women and many other marginalised groups is also that which authorises the destructive oppression of nature. Rather than trying to encapsulate all of the expanding theory of ecofeminism, this thesis focuses on a foundational perspective: the ecofeminist deconstruction of dualisms. What ecofeminists share in common is an intention to deconstruct dualisms that serve to obstruct the presentation of a more interconnected, non-hierarchical, and non-reductionist view of life. This is based on a re-conceptualisation of dualisms inherited from patriarchal Western metaphysics, such as culture/nature, male/female, subject/object, transcendence/immanence, God/world, human/animal, public/private, and production/reproduction. The effect of these pervasive dualisms is that their second terms have been historically constructed as if inferior and subordinated to the first terms and have therefore underpinned systemic thinking that ideologically constructs the objects of those second terms as inferior and dependent. Literary texts might contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of responses to such dualisms and, accordingly, in this thesis an investigation is undertaken of literary works by the contemporary American women writers, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Marilynne Robinson: writers I define as ‘ecofeminist’. The Introduction to the thesis presents an overview of how different generations of feminists and ecofeminists have conceived of nature and have sought to redefine their relationship with it. The subsequent three chapters explore three interlocking sets of dualisms: the transcendence/immanence dualism, the public/private dualism, and the (wo)man/animal dualism. Each chapter traces a dualism’s origin and development in Western philosophy before exploring ecofeminists’ responses and critiques, not only in theoretical terms, but also via literary performativity in the selected fiction. Derrida’s two-step process of deconstruction (first inversion and then re-definition) is a line of thinking and practice that underpins the entire thesis and informs the argument: the feminist and ecofeminist reactions to these dualisms are read as, first, inverting the dualism; and, second, re-defining the terms of the dualism themselves.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available