Reading Things: Gender and Material Culture in Contemporary Indian Women's Writings in English

Cavalcanti, Sofia (2020) Reading Things: Gender and Material Culture in Contemporary Indian Women's Writings in English, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Traduzione, interpretazione e interculturalità, 32 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/9450.
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The dualism subject/object has dominated literary imagination, especially throughout the twentieth century, not only in the Western world but also in the Asian continent. However, over the last twenty years, an ontological shift in focus can be observed in the narratives produced by Indian women authors, in which the material object world, from being merely the background, becomes the structural framework of the story. Through their special interest in the domestic, contemporary Indian women authors rehabilitate the small objects and invest them with metonymic power to such an extent that they become symbols of women’s lives. My research aims at demonstrating that an object-oriented close reading of contemporary narratives by Indian women writers offers new insights into Indian women’s condition, not only from the point of view of gender discrimination but also of identity formation, both in postcolonial India and in the diaspora. The theoretical framework I use is based on Bill Brown’s “Thing Theory,” a recent approach which puts subjects and objects in relational rather than oppositional terms. The corpus of writings I have selected includes Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things (1997), Anita Nair’s novel Ladies’ Coupé (2001), Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories “Mrs. Sen’s” and “The Third and Final Continent” (1999), and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel The Mistress of Spices (1997). The critical analyses of the texts demonstrate that gender is no less physical than an object. It can be materialized either through the externalization of thoughts and ideologies or through the internalization of the physical object world. Hence, the semiotic apparatus in contemporary Indian women writers’ fiction tells stories of objectification and marginalization and, consequently, constitutes significant reading matter.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Cavalcanti, Sofia
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Indian women's writings, material culture, Thing Theory, Indian diasporic literature, Indian literature in English, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Chitra B. Divakaruni, Anita Nair.
Data di discussione
23 Marzo 2020

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