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Violence and The Mirror: Mimetic Theory and Gender Politics in Modern Fiction

MONFORTON, HAZEL,ELIZABETH (2018) Violence and The Mirror: Mimetic Theory and Gender Politics in Modern Fiction. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In Deceit, Desire, and the Novel (1961) and Violence and The Sacred (1972), René Girard situated desire as determined by the arrangement of social forces and networks in a triangular relationship with the other. In doing so, he opened up an immediate and fascinating avenue into the ways desire is experienced along gendered lines. Furthermore, by articulating violence as a structural result of desire within social contexts, Girard allowed a radical critique of hierarchical institutions to be made from the margins. By examining the works of 20th century feminist authors Virginia Woolf and Angela Carter alongside Girard’s mimetic theory, we come to see the complex social relations and formulations of desire and violence which arise along gendered lines. By this, we can see more clearly the gaps in Girard's theses as they relate to gender difference and the structural, foundational oppression of women throughout history. Furthermore, we can see how two authors who are considered icons of distinct and divergent literary periods share similar themes and political concerns throughout their work, moving in a shared trajectory as they encounter and resolve specific problems relating to gender relations, desire, and violence. Woolf and Carter approach Girard's paradigms of violence and desire from different yet compatible angles, writing as they are from their distinct moments in political and social history. They demonstrate the multifarious and multilayered effects desire and violence has on men and women's lives and subjectivities. In doing so, they critique Girard's theory of mimetic desire and offer alternate ways of viewing women under this paradigm.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Girard, Carter, Woolf, Mimetic Theory, Mimesis, Violence, Gender Studies
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 May 2018 15:57

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