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    ‘A Corkscrew in the Neck’: Interrogating Popular Representations of Femininity for the Postmillennial Period

    Roche, Emma (2021) ‘A Corkscrew in the Neck’: Interrogating Popular Representations of Femininity for the Postmillennial Period. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This project examines representations of femininity in contemporary popular fiction. Specifically, it interrogates a crucial paradox: the dissemination of popular literature produced by women authors, for a largely female readership, which eroticises and fetishes gender-based violence. The novels under study were marketed as disparate genres — domestic noir, crime fiction, psychological thriller, erotica & YA romance — but I interpret them as contemporary reiterations of the popular romance formula, reanimating recognisable tropes from chick lit, the modern gothic romance and the Harlequin romance. These tropes, I argue, have been modified by and for a neoliberal postfeminist culture climate. As such, my project utilises feminist genre theory and feminist cultural theory to explicate the significance of the current revival and reformulation of ‘romance’ in this new context of neoliberal postfeminist culture and ideology. Influenced by Rosalind Gill and Angela McRobbie, my project addresses and critiques several key attributes of ‘neoliberal postfeminism’. These include: a pervasive emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility; a ubiquitous ‘makeover’ cultural paradigm; an insistent requirement for self-monitoring, self-surveillance and body-work; the celebration of consumerism and its associated pleasures; the prescription of mandatory optimism and suppressing one’s ‘negative’ emotions; the endorsement of choice as a primary marker of women’s empowerment. While much critical attention has been devoted to those attributes and their pernicious effects, I propose that one significant repercussion has been largely overlooked in contemporary cultural criticism: how the combination of these ideologies effectively sanctions gender-based violence. And so, by modifying longstanding tropes from the romance genre for the postmillennial period, the novels under study function as crucial spaces for interrogating and challenging contemporary gender ideologies — specifically how those ideologies reify violently gendered power dynamics.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: A Corkscrew in the Neck; Interrogating Popular Representations; Femininity; Postmillennial Period;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > English
    Item ID: 18022
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2024 15:37
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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