Rewriting the Nostalgic Story: Woman, Desire, Narrative

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University of Florida, 1989 - Feminist literary criticism - 314 pages
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This dissertation interrogates the nostalgic story, which has been a favorite in the Western literary tradition since Homer's paradigmatic tale of nostalgia, the Odyssey. Interpreting nostalgia etymologically to mean the longing to return home, this dissertation suggests that the traditional story of nostalgia may be alienating to woman who has historically remained, physically as well as psychically, in the home, and it argues that certain contemporary women writers are critiquing and rewriting the nostalgic story. Chapter One, "The Subject of Desire in Feminist Theory," situates this dissertation within the context of current issues in feminist theory, namely, the problem of defining woman. Chapter Two, "There's No place like Home: Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of Nostalgia," traces the pattern of Oedipal desire in popular narratives of nostalgia, The Wizard of Oz, and Terry Gilliam's Brazil, in order to show how alienating such narratives may be to a woman. Chapter Three, "Nostalgia and Marilynne Robinson's Discontent," discusses Marilynne Robinson's revision of the nostalgic story in her novel Housekeeping, and Chapter Four, "Longing to Long: Kathy Acker and the Politics of Pain," discusses Kathy Acker's representation of the pain that is caused by woman's alienation from the traditional nostalgic story.

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