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The breakdown of gender binaries: Writing genders in contemporary fiction. / Ceri Louise Davies

Swansea University Author: Ceri Louise Davies

Abstract

"In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler asked, "[i]s the breakdown of gender binaries ... so monstrous, so frightening, that it must be held to be definitionally impossible and heuristically precluded from any effort to think gender?" (Butler, p. 1999, p.viii). Using this question as a star...

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Published: 2008
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42319
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Abstract: "In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler asked, "[i]s the breakdown of gender binaries ... so monstrous, so frightening, that it must be held to be definitionally impossible and heuristically precluded from any effort to think gender?" (Butler, p. 1999, p.viii). Using this question as a starting point, I look at the way that gender is understood and challenged in contemporary fiction. Specifically, I examine novels and short stories that focus on finding one's place in gender, and the way such narratives write gendered experiences outside of the traditional male/female binary. In the first chapter, I look at females that live as males, exploring various ways of 'doing' gender, both on-stage and off, and the creation of cohesive gender identities. Chapter two looks at the way that sex and gender are medicalised. I argue that the male/female binary is protected by both the media and the medical establishment. This expands into a discussion of the way doctors attempt to preserve this binary in the face of increasing challenges to its very viability. In chapter three, I consider novels that focus on a male-to-female transition, as well as what is at stake in writing gender. Finally, I look at the emergence of 'genderless' characters, both in terms of the viability of the term 'genderless', and the difficulties in finding a suitable language with which to understand and quantify gendered experience."
Keywords: Comparative literature.;Gender studies.
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences