Gendering of aesthetics and politics in contemporary Scottish fiction
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/12/2100
This thesis studies contemporary Scottish fiction by four writers Agnes Owens, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, and Alan Warner, focusing on the problematic position of women characters and feminocentric texts within the dominant class and national(ist) discourses. It argues that the intimate interconstitution between Scottish masculine subjects and class/national politics alienates women from an active political subjectivisation, that the gender matrix of femininity/masculinity underlies the normative selection of which gendered subjects, and accordingly whose symbolic 'voice', can be perceived as 'historical' and 'political'. Scottish working-class men and the texts in which they are the central characters have been considered paradoxically as both a literary reflection of 'political defeatism', but also a form of 'subaltern' counter-politics to British neoliberalism and imperialism. This thesis points out that the common parameters of the debate on the possible (dis)continuation of both class and national(ist) discourses are masculinist, and as such women tend to be perceived as 'non-political' in this (re)politicisation of aesthetics. More fundamentally, these discourses are problematic for women's politicisation because they follow the rule of modern politics which assigns politicality on a fraternal basis, that political struggles are between men of different classes, nationalities and so on. The research interrogates this masculine-centrism in the dominant representational praxis which provides the discursive link between literature, politics, and history which (dis)places feminine subjects into a 'dehistoricised', 'depoliticised' space. It seeks to renegotiate the fraternal terms of this practice and to read feminine subjects and women-centred narratives as capable of conceptually illustrating emancipatory politics.