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Materialisations of a Woman Writer: An Investigation of Gender Politics in Janet Frame's Biographical Legend
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study deals with interpretative procedures in literary studies that implicitly or explicitly rely on biographical information. Most often, readings either presuppose the sovereignty of the author or claim that biographical data is not at all relevant. Both these stances are problematic. This dissertation therefore interrogates the way that biographical information affects readings and studies of writers’ texts. As a case study, it considers Janet Frame’s biographical legend and the texts involved in the production of it, namely, Frame’s autobiographical trilogy

Due to its interdisciplinary scope and comparative method, this study adopts several concepts from discrete theoretical fields. In particular, concepts like Judith Butler’s re-citationality and my own woman-writer figure are used to retain a focus on gender. Moreover the concepts used are related to the individual chapters’ generic approach; Chapter 1 discusses Frame’s poietic novels and their gender troubling women writer figures; Chapter 2 considers the biographies and their nationalist and androcentric narratives; Chapter 3 looks at Frame’s autobiographies, their attempt to re-write Frame’s biographical legend and their links to her later novels. Finally, in dialogue with different film theories, Chapter 4 discusses the film adaptation that both continues the gender troubling poiesis of Frame’s texts and endorses the same kind of nationalism found in the biographies. Without being rigid, this genre division enables a discussion that considers each contribution in its generic context while maintaining a global perspective through the focus on Frame’s biographical legend.

An Autobiography, Jane Campion’s adaptation An Angel at my Table, and several biographical texts and descriptions of Janet Frame in literary studies, including the critical biography Janet Frame (Patrick Evans) from 1977, and the more recent Wrestling with the Angel (Michael King). In addition, this inquiry considers Frame’s later novels, Living in the Maniototo and The Carpathians, since they focus on issues that are central to Frame’s biographical legend, namely, auto/biographical and other narrative modes, language patterns and narratives as either enabling or disabling, New Zealand literary tropes, identity politics and nationalism, alternative women writers’ traditions, and how women writers negotiate with so-called masculine writer ideals and lineages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of English, Stockholm University, Stockholm , 2003. , 196 p.
Keyword [en]
Autobiography, biography, film adaptation, the gaze, gender, New Zealand literature, poiesis, re-citations, whiteness, writer ideals, writer tradition
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-10746OAI: diva2:177265
Public defence
2003-05-17, Hörsal 5, hus B, 10:00 (English)
Unpublished.Available from: 2008-01-06 Created: 2008-01-06 Last updated: 2009-12-15Bibliographically approved

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