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

Standen, Alex May (2011). Re-thinking the victim: representations of gender violence in the narratives of Dacia Maraini. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures


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