Revisionary models of heroinism in contemporary cultural discourse.

NICHOLSON, Patricia Leigh. (1999). Revisionary models of heroinism in contemporary cultural discourse. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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This thesis investigates the representation of femininity within a variety of cultural sources including the earlier novels of Jeanette Winterson and the films of Walt Disney. This juxtaposition parallels images of female development and ego formation bringing to the fore the adolescent heroine's ancient roots in mythology, horror and the fairy story. As a cultural studies project, the thesis deploys the critical techniques of poststructuralism in conjunction with psychoanalysis, feminist theory and film analysis. This is necessary to demonstrate to full potential the heterogeneous quality of the revisioned models of heroinism. My analysis is focused on both popular and literary texts, with Winterson's early fiction in particular selected as a sophisticated and developed example of the ways in which current theory can chart the evolution of a contemporary female literary voice. This thesis carefully scrutinises traditional strategies concerned with literary discourse in order to show how phallocentric structures infiltrate and reflect postcolonial, popular culture. This is achieved through an initial concentration upon mass representation of the female form. This is a necessary analysis as one cannot demonstrate how contemporary women authors revise traditional models of heroinism without first defining what has gone before.Building on the work of Elisabeth Bronfen, this thesis examines how contradictory narratives construct a double opposition, overlapping the dead and the feminine against the living and the masculine, to defend against the knowledge of an incommensurable difference at the origin of life. By representing the narrative of double castration, this is a thorough examination of a movement away from biologically scripted models of castration anxiety, as with Freud, relocating identity at the site of the navel. This enables the subject to move beyond the division of sexuality as presented within patriarchal, heterosexual orthodoxies and to allow for a notion of femininity which is subversive because of its very willingness to explore and inhabit abject/deject states. For the purposes of my investigations, these tradtionally disturbing 'liminalities' will be understood in both psychic and cultural terms, but will focus, in particular on female adolescene.In conclusion, the revisionary heroine marks the dissolution of the certainty once associated with the ancient constructed ideal of femininity. She does not place herself in opposition to the traditional figure, more than that, she surfaces within the broader frame of Western culture as something different, some 'thing' else in the psychoanalytical sense to the 'Other'. My analysis of the figure of the revisionary heroine demonstrates the ways in which both the creation and the interpretation of art and theory can be inflected towards an inversion of the dominant structures of knowledge and power without simply reproducing them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 1999.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:21
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 12:10

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