• Katja Østergaard Jakobsen
4. semester, Engelsk, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This thesis is a textual analysis of Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts (2007), Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (2018) and Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls (2018) focused on examining how the authors through their fluid approach to genre become able to articulate how Western culture’s obsession with dead girls oppresses women into silence. In order to examine how the three female authors manage to articulate silencing of women, this paper takes a theoretical starting point in queer narratology, which reveals how Nelson and Bolin both express their fluid approaches to genre, as well as emphasize the reality of their personal experiences through metanarrations. In contrast, McNamara does not include such an explicit focus on her role as narrator, and instead to a higher degree dedicates her focus to the dead women in her narration’s stories.
Although, the authors create different levels of explicit commentary on their fluid use of genre, they all create queer authorial designs that allow them to blur the lines between themselves and the dead women in their narrations, as well as between personal subjectivity and theoretical objectivity. Thus, it becomes possible to define their texts as being autotheoretical, as they derive the knowledge they use to criticize Western culture’s oppressional silencing of women through portrayals of dead girls from their own personal experiences, thereby becoming able to articulate both their own, as well as a majority of other women’s experiences with being silenced.
However, the authors feminist messages are challenged through their queer use of both autotheory and true crime features, as their use of poetic license can make their personal experiences untruthful, thereby invalidating the knowledge and theory they derive from it. In addition, the authors can be considered hypocrites, as their use of true crime and dead women arguably makes them participate in the very obsession and silencing they criticize. While Bolin’s use of true crime generally is limited to her red-herring-title, Nelson and McNamara to various degrees use the features of the genre; Nelson by approaching the problematic with a high degree of self-awareness and reflection, McNamara by indulging in the genre’s conventions. However, as McNamara’s text in the light of her death can be perceived as a cautionary tale about heavy consumption of true crime, both Nelson and McNamara’s texts reflect on the moral of true crime, but without moralizing.
However, as all three authors evidently still portray dead women in their narrations, it is relevant to examine whether they are perceived as being ‘narcissistic’ for inserting themselves into the stories of silent, dead women. Through an examination of the readers’ reviews of the three books, it becomes evident how this is not the case, as the critical readers instead appear to want a larger focus on the dead women, and instead perceive the authors as being ‘narcissistic’ for focusing on their own lives. However, as these accusations of the authors being ‘narcissistic’ is only stated by a minority of their readers, it is indicated how Nelson, McNamara and Bolin’s autotheoretical texts are generally well received.
The final part of this thesis, consists of an experimental, autotheoretical text, wherein I use knowledge gained through both my own personal experiences as a woman, as well as my knowledge obtained through my academic curiosity in the cultural obsession with dead women to constitute the theory used to discuss the three authors’ narrations. Throughout this text, I explore cultural tendencies and concepts such as e.g. victimblaming, the word ‘feminazi’, inherited fear, obsession with true crime, white privilege etc. that I have experienced in my life and relate them to Nelson, McNamara and Bolin’s texts. Thus, I partake in the literary tendency and conversation around how Western culture traumatizes, oppresses and silences women in various ways, while I try to remain aware of my own participation in the obsession with dead women – both personally and academically.
Udgivelsesdato2 jun. 2022
Antal sider77
ID: 472029347