Between oneself and the other: empathy, dialogism, and feminist narratology in two novels by Margaret Atwood
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:02 authored by Lauren Fisher
This thesis will propose a model of feminist narratology that is informed by insights offered by cognitive literary studies, intersectionality, and Bakhtinian dialogism. Focusing on empathy between women as a core concern, I examine the thematic and discursive treatment of this concept in two novels by Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (1989) and The Robber Bride (1993). I particularly emphasise the novels’ creation of an active reading position, which is facilitated by the interaction and tension between elements of story and discourse. As the novels’ female protagonists learn to empathise with women whom they see as Other while simultaneously respecting the autonomous selfhood of these women, readers of the texts are positioned to identify emotionally with the protagonists while also viewing them from a more distanced standpoint. Through the balancing of emotional closeness with intellectual distance, the evocation and subsequent problematisation of schemata, and the metafictive treatment of storytelling as an authorial construction of self and other, these novels engage both the emotive and the cognitive elements of narrative empathy and also position the reader to reflect actively upon her own viewpoint. This formulation of narratological dialogic empathy, I contend, is thus an appropriate model to reflect and reinforce prevailing feminist philosophy, which combines empathetic understanding with respect for difference and autonomy.
Table of ContentsIntroduction -- 1. Closeness and distance -- 2. Scripts and schemata -- 3. Self and other -- Conclusion.
NotesTheoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 67-82
Awarding InstitutionMacquarie University
Degree TypeThesis MRes
DegreeMRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of English
Department, Centre or SchoolDepartment of English
Year of Award2015
Principal SupervisorRebecca Giggs
RightsCopyright Lauren Fisher 2015. Copyright disclaimer: http://www.copyright.mq.edu.au
Extent1 online resource (vii, 82 pages)
Former Identifiersmq:44712 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1071541
Margaret AtwoodAtwood, MargaretFeminist literatureAtwood, Margaret, -- 1939-. -- Robber brideEnglish literatureAtwood, Margaret, -- 1939-. -- Cat's eyenarrative empathyAtwood, Margaret, -- 1939- -- Characters -- WomenFeminist literature -- Canada -- History and criticismfeminist literaturefeminist narratology20th centuryAtwood, Margaret, -- 1939- -- Criticism and interpretationdialogismDialogism (Literary analysis)