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Title: 'New Femininities' Fiction
Authors: Fuller, Elizabeth A.
Supervisor(s): Hunter, Adrian
Keywords: third wave feminism
new femininities
Twenty-first century fiction
women's fiction
Enright, Anne
Cusk, Rachel
Smith, Ali
Munro, Alice
Myerson, Julie
Mendelson, Charlotte
Heller, Zoe
Hadley, Tessa
Kennedy, A.L.
Issue Date: 27-Jun-2011
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: I identify and analyse an emergent sub-genre of contemporary literature by women that I am calling ‘New Femininities’ fiction. This fiction is about the distinctly feminine experience of contemporary domestic life written by women about the lives of heterosexual female characters that are married or in committed partnerships, often with children. These texts are concerned with the nature of the self, with a self that is plural and ‘in process’, and make use of particular narrative devices – ironic voice, unreliable narration, free indirect discourse, and interrogative endings that exceed their roles as simply telling stories. ‘New Femininities’ fictions allow their language the necessary freedom to multiply meanings and enact the narrative conflicts they raise and by so doing, undermine the binary oppositions which structure a gendered world. In this dissertation, I argue the models of existing criticism would do a disservice to these texts because much of the criticism either overvalues the theoretical and ignores the literariness of the text or seeks to identify a ‘feminine’ language the definition of which serves to reinforce and revalue patriarchal notions of femininity. The readings that this fiction requires necessitate a negotiation with established models of feminist literary criticism. I attempt to identify the characteristics of their style that allows them to straddle binary oppositions and to look at the language these authors use without having to label it ‘feminine’ and by so doing establish, build, or reinforce a boundary with some undefined ‘masculine’ language which stands in for all occurrences that are not ‘feminine’. Additionally, I attempt to forge a transformed, adapted concept vocabulary for dealing with this group of writers. To this end, I make use of various discourses to show how the different authors either negotiate with that discourse or prove its inadequacy to describe or explain these new femininities.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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