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Re-thinking the victim: representations of gender violence in the narratives of Dacia Maraini

Standen, Alex May (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis explores representations of gender violence in the works of Dacia Maraini, tracing a pathway from early novels in which her protagonists suffer predominantly non-physical oppression, to later works which foreground victims of more extreme bodily violence. Taking a chronological approach, it contextualises her work and situates individual texts in their broader cultural framework, highlighting the changes and continuities that these differing backgrounds have provoked. Maraini’s unique position as both author and social commentator is similarly established, with the interplay of her narrative and feminist commitment emerging as a central concern. Fundamental to the thesis is the figure of the female victim, through whom motifs that are recurrent in Maraini’s oeuvre are identified and analysed.

The thesis proposes two main lines of argument. Firstly, that there is a change in the way in which Maraini represents gender violence: from signifying one manifestation of women’s overall oppression under patriarchy, it becomes the dominant theme in a number of texts, presented as a specific phenomenon to be understood and exposed. Secondly, that whilst in many of her early texts her protagonists develop strategies for resisting their abusive situations, Maraini’s later female victims demonstrate little agency and, moreover, appear to submit to the violence they undergo.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Ross, Charlotte
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Italian Studies
Subjects:PN0080 Criticism
PQ Romance literatures
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2914
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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