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Peripheral mothers, troubled daughters:exploring maternal agency in Indian ‘bourgeois feminist fiction’, 1980-2010

Karnad, Devika Sharad 2022. Peripheral mothers, troubled daughters:exploring maternal agency in Indian ‘bourgeois feminist fiction’, 1980-2010. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis studies peripheral maternal characters in ‘bourgeois feminist fiction’, written by and for the urban, upper-class, upper-caste, English-speaking population of India. It considers 10 novels by 4 authors in this canon, namely Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Manju Kapur, and Githa Hariharan. It attempts to reconfigure standardised readings of female agency and resistance in these novels by undertaking a tilted focus upon peripheral mother figures and analysing the forms of ‘everyday resistance’ and negotiation represented through them. Simultaneously, it traces the shifts in agential representation over the years from 1980 to 2009 (during which these novels have been published) in the context of rising Hindu nationalism and the advent of neoliberalism. It argues that the complex agential possibilities for women theorised by Indian feminists in relation to Hindutva and neoliberalism are particularly visible in the bourgeois feminist text’s treatment of the peripheral mother character, who more easily presents the necessary negotiations within her discursive framework as compared to her feminist daughter, and the shifts in whose representation over the decades lends itself to a reading of shifts in literary and social perceptions of women’s agency and feminism. Each chapter of the thesis concerns itself with a specific function afforded to peripheral mother figures, namely those of villainy, nostalgia and political action. The chapter on villainy studies texts from the 1980s which represent a negatively formed bond between mothers and daughters. The chapter on nostalgia studies texts from the 1990s that showcase the daughters’ turning towards their mothers who become upholders of cultural identity. The chapter on political agency analyses texts from the 2000s that represent women’s participation in anti�Hindutva activism. Overall, the thesis hopes to establish more complex methods of reading female resistance in feminist texts, while contemplating the intersectional and intertextual methods necessary to formulate a literary feminist tradition that accommodates women’s agential capacities irrespective of their position in the framework of hegemonic discourses within which they undertake quotidian negotiations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 April 2023
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2023 11:36

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