Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Greyser, Naomi

Second Advisor

Wittenberg, David

First Committee Member

Greyser, Naomi

Second Committee Member

Wittenberg, David

Third Committee Member

Stewart, Garrett

Fourth Committee Member

Buckley, Jennifer

Fifth Committee Member

Glass, Loren


I argue that literary texts after 1980 use the fluid relationship between the physical world and the world of writing in order to present alternate versions of the body’s relationship to the mind. Examining works by Toni Morrison, William Gibson, Kathy Acker, Sarah Kane, and Shelley Jackson, I demonstrate the ways in which these texts reinterpret the relationship between mind and body by offering bodily metaphors for their character’s interior emotional lives; they compare this inner life to a pregnant mother, a sexual couple, and more. I emphasize the political implications of the kinds of bodies employed in these metaphors, setting this against the background of late twentieth century feminism. I read my primary texts alongside the work of Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigary, and others, in order to chart the parallel projects of literature and theory in articulating the relationship between the body—especially, the female body—and our understandings of subjectivity and representation. Starting with the 1980s, when the second wave feminist movement suffered conservative backlash, and continuing through the development of the third wave, I examine literary theorizations of feminist concerns during a period of transition in the feminist movement itself.


Feminism, Kathy Acker, Sarah Kane, Shelley Jackson, Toni Morrison, William Gibson


vii, 165 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 159-165).


Copyright © 2015 Jessica Lynn Lawson