Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Chris Kocela

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Bloom

Third Advisor

Dr. Cal Thomas

Abstract

Studies of women’s experimental narrative in the twentieth century have often been fixed to political interests in the recovery of women’s artistic practices for inclusion in the canons of literary modernism and formal postmodernism. Concurrent trends in philosophy and critical theory, however, propose the interrogation of the limits of subjectivity itself, suggesting that the most provocative assertions about human experience eschew the very categorical delimitations, like gender, on which such recovery projects depend. This dissertation traces the literary investments of women, particularly queer women, whose experiments in life-writing reconfigure the boundaries of human subjects without relinquishing claims to the material or political conditions that shape their lives. “Rough Text” examines writing that queers or complicates autobiography by featuring self-referential protagonists whose lives illustrate the explosive consequences of both gender and genre manipulation. Writing themselves by unfastening themselves textually, temporally, and spatially, these authors do a liberating violence to their own coherence that shakes, and then rethinks, the grounds of their ontologies in ways that offer alternatives to the “psychological squalor” Fredric Jameson describes as the postmodern condition.

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