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Writing Back Through Our Mothers: A Transnational Feminist Study on the Woman's Historical Novel

  • Author / Creator
    Zimmerman, Tegan
  • This transnational feminist study on the contemporary woman’s historical novel (post 1970) argues that the genre’s central theme and focus is the maternal. Analyzing the maternal, disclosed through a myriad of genealogies, voices, and figures, reveals that the historical novel is a feminist means for challenging historical erasures, silences, normative sexuality, political exclusion, divisions of labour, and so on within a historical-literary context. The novels surveyed in this work speak from the margins and spaces of silence within history and the genre. As much as the works contest masculinist master narratives, they also create and envision new genealogies. Each narrative centers on an atypical female protagonist and the role of history is not only visible but also serves as the setting for either the heroine or the author to consciously subject patriarchal values to a gender analysis. Furthermore, there is a maternal connection between the milieu/personal history of the writer and the subject matter/history of the novel, which suggests the simultaneous rewriting of the present by recalling and reclaiming the past. In recuperating and reclaiming the past, the woman’s historical novel puts forth a counter text or a counter version of history, but assumes, contrary to the post-modern techniques many feminist novels employ, a historical reality and a gendered reality that extends beyond the text and that grounds the text. Acknowledging and studying this transnational corpus is, therefore, imperative for expanding and updating the genre’s current masculinist Eurocentric status and bridging new relations between transnational feminism and literature. Collectively, the novels form a femino-centric space–an imagined motherland or matria–wherein patriarchy, Eurocentrism, gender, motherhood, and the nation are fiercely interrogated. The act of writing back through our mothers is a means for making collective and personal arguments for feminist changes; thus, this study contends that a transnational feminist knowledge project on the contemporary woman’s historical novel is necessary, worthwhile, and timely.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2013-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3R03T
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Comparative Literature
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Kelly, Gary (Comparative Literature/English and Film Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Demers, Patricia (Comparative Literature/English and Film Studies)
    • McCallum, Pamela (English)
    • Braz, Albert (Comparative Literature/English and Film Studies)
    • Fried, Daniel (Comparative Literature/English and Film Studies)
    • Wallace, Jo-Ann (Comparative Literature/English and Film Studies)