Title page for ETD etd-01222006-164241


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Westmoreland, Kalene
Author's Email Address kwestmore@lsu.edu
URN etd-01222006-164241
Title Interior Revolutions: Doing Domesticity, Advocating Feminism in Contemporary American Fiction
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Rick Moreland Committee Chair
John May Committee Member
Robin A. Roberts Committee Member
Sharon Aronofsky Weltman Committee Member
Kevin Bongiorni Dean's Representative
Keywords
  • lesbianism
  • motherhood
  • Emma McLaughlin
  • Nicola Kraus
  • Suzanne Berne
  • Jane Smiley
  • nostalgia
  • Betty Friedan
  • Ira Levin
  • Alice Walker
  • Fannie Flagg
  • Amy Tan
  • Ana Castillo
  • second-wave feminism
  • third-wave feminism
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • race
  • sisterhood
  • daughterhood
  • domestic workers
Date of Defense 2005-12-12
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Domesticity has endured as a facet of everyday life in the late twentieth century and beyond, despite cultural acceptance of feminist beliefs and ideals which encourage women’s movement away from the private sphere of the home. A tumultuous and remarkable cultural transformation has marked the four decades since the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, a key text of early second-wave feminism. Equality and choice seem viable and attainable, yet many women today feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and the pressure to live up to the idealization of motherhood. Domesticity can be used as a tool of oppression, against which feminisms may provide useful forms of resistance; but feminisms and domesticity can also function in concert, which can strengthen their potential to transform individual women’s lives and cultural attitudes about women. Interior Revolutions: Doing Domesticity, Advocating Feminism in Contemporary American Fiction examines how various late twentieth century writers represent this complex relationship and reveals domesticity’s potential as a site of transformative feminist discourse and praxis.

Through a third-wave, feminist poststructuralist lens I analyze nine contemporary works of fiction from a variety of genres and one key feminist text, The Feminine Mystique, in order to reconsider the scope of American domestic fiction. Interior Revolutions illustrates how “advocating feminism” is a useful means of personal and political transformation for characters, readers, and American women. Representations of domesticity convey ways that our culture perceives women and their relationship to domestic space; such representations may in turn influence how women see their own relationship to domestic spaces and responsibilities. Engaging with these representations can spur women to reconsider and revise their conceptions of the ways that feminism and domesticity function in their own lives, potentially prompting them to advocate feminism. Interior Revolutions examines texts and discourses about feminisms, domesticity, and the meaningful connections between these concepts.

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