Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between fiction and theory by examining how authors Margaret Atwood and Ahdaf Soueif interact with second-wave feminist discourse in the four works: The Edible Woman, Cat’s Eye, Aisha and In the Eye of the Sun. The two authors, who seem to have different backgrounds and are writing about different contexts, engage in their exploration of the institution of marriage and the conditions of women in society by responding to contact with the works of Anglo-American feminists Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer who call for reforming domestic politics as a means for social change. Improving the conditions of the women within the household and liberating themselves sexually are examples that Atwood and Soueif portray as possible solutions for women’s issues within oppressive societies. The two authors also enact the theories of French Feminists Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva when it comes to their approach to language as a realm that is male-dominated and needs to be claimed by women. They do so by defying the expectations of readers with regard to genre conventions, experimenting with narrative techniques and adopting a circular mode of telling their stories rather than the linear one associated with men. In their depiction of marriage and gender, Atwood and Soueif present the ideas of these second-wave feminists in ways that do not always concur. There are instances where Atwood seems to criticize some of these ideas, or at least she demonstrates that they do not always work: particularly the idea of the sisterhood, which anticipates the advent of post-feminism later in the 20th century. By interacting with the theoretical aspect of feminism in this way Atwood and Soueif’s works can be seen as examples of how fiction can contribute to and impact theory.

Department

English & Comparative Literature Department

Degree Name

MA in English & Comparative Literature

Date of Award

6-1-2015

Online Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Motlagh, Amy

Committee Member 1

Nimis, Stephen

Committee Member 2

Soliman, Mounira

Document Type

Thesis

Extent

52 p.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Suwayf, Ahdāf, 1950-

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Atwood, Margaret, 1939-

Rights

The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

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Approval has been obtained for this item

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