Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Writing)

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Marcella Polain

Second Advisor

Dr Ffion Murphy

Abstract

This thesis consists of a novella, ‘One Night in Hong Kong’, and an essay, ‘Sexuality, Desire and the Ageing Female Body.’ The novella tells the story of an erotic affair between the female narrator and a man in a hotel room in the neon city of Hong Kong. Told in four parts, the story shifts in time, reflecting on earlier events in the narrator’s life and a trip she made to the Sicilian city of Catania in 1954.

Older female protagonists and their sexuality are rarely depicted in contemporary Australian fiction. Where representations do exist, they act as ‘interventionist’ texts, rupturing dominant notions of ageing women’s sexuality as non-existent, diminished, or of little interest to mainstream readers. In the novella I experiment with writing an interventionist text, exploring a range of themes, including ‘invisibility’, ‘the ageing body’ and ‘sexual fantasy’. In the critical essay I analyse these themes from a theoretical perspective, and consider how scholarship provides insight into the ‘absence’ or gap in representations of ageing female sexuality in contemporary Australian fiction. The process and findings of my research informed and helped shape the development of the creative work.

The thesis is underpinned by Julia Kristeva’s theory of ‘abjection’ in relation to the ageing female body, and Michel Foucault’s theory of disciplining discourses that describe how bodies are culturally trained and shaped by everyday routines, rules and expectations to produce ‘docile’ bodies. I also consider feminist analysis by Zoe Brennan and Sally Chivers on representations of ageing women in popular culture and literary production, and scholarship from the emerging field of social gerontology which argues that social constructionist theory has tended to focus almost exclusively on the discursively produced body at the expense of the material body. Finally the thesis investigates representations of ageing female sexuality in novels by three Western Australian writers: Elizabeth Jolley, Dorothy Hewett and Liz Byrski

Included in

Fiction Commons

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