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Title: Lost Objects and Fugitive Subjects in Contemporary Female Self-Writing, 1997-2016
Authors: O'Rourke-Suchoff, Jessi
Advisors: Brodsky, Claudia
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: American Literature
Contemporary literature
Queer theory
Subjects: Literature
Gender studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation engages with contemporary female authors whose theory, scholarship, and aesthetic works theorize female self-representation. My claim is that Julie Maroh, Phoebe Gloeckner, Alison Bechdel, Anne Carson, Ruth Ozeki, and Maggie Nelson are explicitly engaged in theorizing female authorial subjectivity in their treatment and varying combinations of fiction, scholarship, and memoir. I place these authors in conversation because they represent what I identify as a contemporary mode of gendered self-writing whose authors write through and across multiple literary genres to produce critical theories of the female subject, either explicitly in their bodies of scholarship or by way of the aesthetic works they produce, that can be used to understand the versions of representation of subjectivity that emerge in their literature. I name this authorial mode auto-critical literature, by which I mean fiction and nonfiction that deploy form to criticize and theorize literary self-construction and representations of subjectivity. My contention is that these contemporary female authors respond to and construct literature out of and against French modernism, and in particular, the model of self-writing that Marcel Proust establishes in the relationship between his narrator and Albertine in À la recherche du temps perdu, and thus propose contemporary alternatives to Proust’s modernist construction of the author in relation to absence and presence: the present, male writing subject and the absent, “lost” female written object. Their attention to this mode of authorial construction is in response to this inherited literary tradition of the construction of women as lost objects, as they seek to subvert these gendered constructions of absence and presence that have historically refused interiority to female subjects, rendering them outside of, or fugitive to, normative practices of subject formation. This auto-critical mode of contemporary female self-writing, I argue, resists the normative authorial impulse to construct a version of the self by aestheticizing an object or other, absenting and rendering that other, that foreign entity, lost in the process. From queer theory, I consider this resistance as a mode of fugitive literary attention, which I track through the work of authors that are the subject of this dissertation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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