Title

Heroine

Year

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts

Department

School of Journalism and Creative Writing

Abstract

Heroine 'Heroine' is a novel in the form of three linked novellas exploring 'the heroine' in literary as well as feminist senses. The three parts are connected both thematically (gender/war) and internally via slender threads of character and situational linkage.

The first section, 'Heroine', explores military disenfranchisement and 'woman' in relation to the masculine bond, using a narrator whose traumatic experiences continually limit self-recognition, but who eventually resolves to produce her own brand of heroinism.

The second section, 'Pan Osculans', explores ideas of 'nature', human complexity and a desire to find Utopian social forms through the quest of a primatologist to find and identify with a new species of ape. The third novella, 'Our Lady of the Sorrows', follows a young girl inside a military bunker as her father contemplates nuclear destruction, acting as a reminder of the d,ire need to continually reconsider the more oppressive of our norms.

Exegesis: Heroine and Back Again: Beyond Butler's Heteronormative Impasse

The exegesis works through the stymieing point provided to feminist activism by Judith Butler's critiques of identity, radicalism and the way oppositional politics always re-invokes the 'other' it attempts to deny. However I find that, where normative reiterations attach to interests that can be evaluated and critiqued, 'dichotomy' is an insufficient understanding, and a political art practice derived from it (such as ephemeral norm-destabilisation) may prove unnecessarily limiting. For instance, in traditional militarism's case, I argue that genders are produced specifically in the construction of the warrior bond (principled around motifs of penetrability), from where they achieve a hegemonic status.

This reframing of the discussion to include interests within heteronormativity allows for a reappraisal of radical feminisms as well as postfeminist logic, and to my mind permits political and artistic tactics from all fields to seem at least partially useful. For instance, I try to recoup Utopianism as a potentially powerful constructive tool, and in some parts of the novel I employ what have been called ‘feminist poetics’, including a range of linguistic tactics like elision, misnomer and stream-of-consciousness.

In conclusion, my goal is not to produce a singular antiheteronormative fiction (or literary ‘heroine’) but to use the fiction to explore and strengthen the bridge between feminist and postfeminist methodologies in the process of delegitimating (and exposing) heteronorms.

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