Weird fiction in contemporary women’s writing

Wicks, Anne-Maree (2020) Weird fiction in contemporary women’s writing. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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This thesis examines Weird Fiction as an (im)possible genre. To claim Weird Fiction as a genre proper disrupts the traditional discourses that view it as a mode of other genres such as Gothic, Horror and Science Fiction. This thesis further complicates the critical scholarship that categorises Weird Fiction as the Old Weird and the New Weird. The Old Weird is a term used to distinguish the authors and works published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales. H. P. Lovecraft in particular is elevated as having invented Weird stories and formulating its writing standards with his short fiction. The New Weird takes issue with this elevation and aims to offer a new movement of Weird authors and works that are not limited to the Lovecraftian Old. A complication arises when the Old and New are circumscribed as failed modes of Weird Fiction, inspired by the limitations of Lovecraftian homage. It suggests that the Old and New fail to deliver the Weird as knowable within traditional literary formulations. It is my aim to reveal how Weird Fiction is an exemplar genre that reaffirms and practices its understanding of genre by engaging with its own impossibility. It is also my aim to offer a working definition that will elucidate my approach to Weird Fiction’s deliberately anti-normative characteristics and narrative function of unknown unknowns.

Reconfiguring these concerns in terms of a French psychoanalytic lens, specifically drawing on the theories by Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan, I argue that Weird Fiction reveals a corruption in the Derridean law of genre which consciously disrupts its phallocentric limitations. It reveals how a phallocentric lens demands and desires knowledge of the real Weird. In applying a Lacanian lens, I investigate Weird Fiction’s deliberately anti-normative characteristics alongside woman’s barred and invisible position in language. Each chapter of this thesis presents a close reading of a contemporary Weird text by a woman writer, specifically Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959), Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now (1971), Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972), Octavia E. Butler’s Bloodchild (1985), and K. J. Bishop’s The Etched City (2003). I hope these readings do justice to the Weirdness presented in these texts, and to demonstrate how Weird Fiction offers the capacity to confront phallocentric limitations as a liberating practice for women writers and feminist critics. In forming a matrilineal writing tradition, women writers and critics contribute to a Weird Fiction that consciously disrupts instantiating phallocentric genre theory and its law.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Supervisors: Hourigan, Daniel; Sulway, Nike
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2020 02:26
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: weird fiction, genre, critical theory, feminist criticism, gender
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470514 Literary theory
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/hy7d-j375

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