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Queer TransCanadian Women's Writing in the 21st Century: Assembling a New Cross-Border Ethic Open Access


Other title
border studies
Larissa Lai
21st century literature
contemporary women's writing
Hiromi Goto
Emma Donoghue
cultural studies
affect studies
queer literature
material feminist theory
Dionne Brand
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
García Zarranz, Libe
Supervisor and department
Zwicker, Heather (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Zwicker, Heather (English and Film Studies)
Demers, Patricia (English and Film Studies)
Hjartarson, Paul (English and Film Studies)
Carrière, Marie (University Examiner, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Brydon, Diana (External Examiner, University of Manitoba, English, Film, and Theatre)
Department of English and Film Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation proposes an alternative theorization of borders through the lenses of contemporary queer transCanadian women's writing. Focusing on the first decade of the 21st century, this study examines how the work of Dionne Brand, Emma Donoghue and Hiromi Goto, primarily, dismantles and rearticulates a variety of literal and symbolic boundaries that cut across corporeal, biopolitical and affective structures. By doing so, these authors are assembling a new cross-border ethic that interrogates hegemonic structures of power, proposes new forms of relationality, and creates unexpected alliances between material bodies, often reshaping the cultural, the social, and the ethical fabric. I follow terms like "transCanadian" (Kamboureli and Miki 2007) to analyze how this cross-border ethic is articulated in the following texts: Brand's long poems Ossuaries (2010) and Inventory (2006), the memoir A Map to the Door of No Return (2001), and the novel What We All Long For (2005); Goto's novels, The Water of Possibility (2002), Half-World (2009), and Darkest Light (2012), together with the short-story collection Hopeful Monsters (2004); the collaborative docu-poem Borderless: A Docu-Drama About the Lives of Undocumented Workers (2006); Larissa Lai's poetry in Automaton Biographies; and Donoghue's novels Slammerkin (2000) and Room (2010), together with the short story-collections The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002) and Astray (2012). This project does not seek to describe what borders are or are not. Instead, my work looks at various written and visual texts as contested sites from which to examine what borders do and undo; in which ways borders shape social and bodily space; and how borders circulate across human and non-human materialities. Combining epistemological and ontological methodologies, this dissertation draws on material feminist theory, philosophically inflected cultural studies, affect theory, and non-humanist political philosophy. This study strives to escape the "glamours of easy globality" (Spivak 2013) and, instead, engage with the imperative to be attentive to the historical and material contingencies of border crossing, which stands as an integral force in the cross-border ethic that these women writers are beginning to assemble.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
"Toxic Bodies that Matter: Trans-Corporeal Materialities in Dionne Brand's Ossuaries." Canada and Beyond: A Journal of Canadian Literary and Cultural Studies 2.1-2 (Dec. 2012): 51-68.

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