Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English
Roberta Seelinger Trites
My study unites two disparate strands of feminist theory: the linguistic, which emphasizes the relationship between language and power, and the material, which argues that the human body has its own agency. I raise three main points. First, I contend that the sexualized feminine body is the site of neither the linguistic nor the material independent of one another, but both the linguistic and the material existing in a state of fluidity and interdependency, which combine to grant the young female character agency. Second, I contend that feminist novels should not only have strong female characters, but that they should also portray sustainable female friendships. Keeping in mind the trope of heteronormative female relationships in contemporary young adult literature, I argue that companionship and female friendships are sustainable only when female protagonists have access to both language and the material, as a person needs both for successful social integration. My third and final point is to conclude that, contrary to the arguments of scholars like Lissa Paul and Roberta Seelinger Trites, silencing or the loss of voice does not result in a loss of agency; my overarching goal is for our field to better understand this interdependent (if dichotomous) relationship between voice and materiality. Accordingly, the chapters in my dissertation will closely examine the varied aspects of the sexualized feminine body as they appear in contemporary young adult literature and film, with regard to the sexually active adolescent body, the maternal body, the cyborg body, and the transgender body. The final chapter of my dissertation focuses on the practical implications of the confluence of the discursive and material based on my experiences teaching feminist theory and young adult literature in the General Education classroom.
Viswanath, Tharini, "Voice, Choice, and ( Material ) Agency: the Sexualized Feminine Body in Young Adult Literature" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 1326.