Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The (Un)Balanced Canon: Re-Visioning Feminist Conceptions of Madness and Transgression
by Capelli, Amanda M., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2017, 121; 10686919
Abstract (Summary)

By re-positioning the works of Elaine Showalter, Phyllis Chesler, Sandra Gilbert, and Susan Gubar alongside Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston, reading the literary texts through the feminist theories in order to expand them, this dissertation aims to contribute to an intersectional feminist practice that challenges claims of universality and continues to decolonize the female body and mind. Through an intersectional analysis of narratives written by women of color, applying and re-visioning theories of madness and transgression, this dissertation will present a counter-narrative to the “essential womanness” developed within and sustained by white feminist practices throughout the 1970s. Each chapter pairs white feminist theorists with an author whose work complicates notions of universal female experience: Dunbar-Nelson/ Showalter, Larsen/ Chesler, Hurston/Gilbert and Gubar. These pairings create tension between theories of universality and the realities of difference. The addition of three different narratives, each representing a broader range of intersectional female experience, enriches the heteroglossia surrounding feminist conceptions of mental illness. The result is a poly-vocal conversation that employs a scaffold of intersectional identity politics in order to (re)consider the relationship between the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and the performativity of gender.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilson, Mary Ann
Commitee: Davis-McElligatt, Joanna, DeVine, Christine
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, American literature, Gender studies
Keywords: Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Intersectional feminisms, Madness, Mental illness, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston
Publication Number: 10686919
ISBN: 978-0-355-85454-1
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