Third wave feminist analysis : An approach to the exploration of discourses of femininity.

LILADHAR, Janine. (2001). Third wave feminist analysis : An approach to the exploration of discourses of femininity. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This thesis suggests that whilst feminist theory has been, and remains, a significant political influence which has contributed to wholesale legislative and social changes, the climate in which this theory circulates is now markedly different from that of the 1960s, when Second Wave Feminism began. Consequently, a new form of feminist theory is developing, which attempts to respond to an increasingly more complex situation, without losing sight of the many important elements of the earlier work. This thesis is situated within this movement and I term the approach it takes Third Wave Feminist Analysis. Third Wave Feminism seeks to challenge sexism and to explore notions of femininity as they are manifested in texts, looking for both the restrictions these seek to impose on women and for the potential these offer for liberatory ways of behaving and being.As this reference to texts might suggest, Third Wave Feminist Analysis is primarily a form of literary criticism. However, it does not only draw on work from that discipline. Instead, it employs ideas and approaches used by feminists working in other fields, in order to formulate a more comprehensive analysis than was generally found in earlier feminist literary criticism. Moreover, the thesis is not limited to an exploration of only literary texts but also explores other cultural forms. This diversity is important because constructions of knowledge and subjectivity are enabled by all types of representations. Thus, interdisciplinarity moves analysis on from a straightforward identification of the Tacts' of literary cultures to an exploration of cultural identities, a step which is assisted by Third Wave Feminist Analysis's insistence on the importance of extra-textual features, including the analyst's own background knowledge of the society in which the texts being explored are produced and interpreted. The object of this emphasis on the cultural and the societal is a more equitable world; in other words, I am claiming that Third Wave Feminist Analysis aids feminist praxis.As part of this attempt, Third Wave Feminist Analysis attempts to interrogate the ways in which femininity is defined in the case studies explored. In this thesis three texts in circulation in the 1990s are examined: Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres (1992); The Rector's Wife by Joanna Trollope (1991); and the TV Soap Opera archetype, the Soap Queen. As part of this examination, femininity is understood as one of a number of inter-connecting discourses which not only reflect but shape gender. Thus, discourses disseminate social and institutionalised values and also create them, influencing people's behaviours and attitudes, although individuals do have the potential to resist or challenge this influence. A recurrent discursive theme in the three case studies explored here is the association of femininity with the 'private' or domestic realm of home and family. In many ways, this association is rooted in an outdated notion of femininity; the Victorian concept of the feminine domestic ideal. To this extent, this thesis argues that its case studies are implicated in the promulgation of anachronistic discourses.However, all three texts also subvert this ideal in a number of ways and the ways in which this subversion occurs are also explored.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2001.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2018 08:47
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20746

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