Geometries of desire: Carole Maso's "The Art Lover", Rikki Ducornet's "The Fan-Maker's Inquisition", and Joanna Scott's "The Manikin"
Dixon, Tamara M.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis examines the interrelated connections between eroticism and metafiction in three contemporary postmodern women writers: Carole Maso, Rikki Ducornet, and Joanna Scott. In the hands of the American women writers Carole Maso, Rikki Ducornet, and Joanna Scott the realist novel no longer maintains a recognizable linear and pragmatic style. As writers who inhabit the marginal categories "experimental" and "woman"--labels emphasizing their aberration and discrepancy with a patriarchal Western literary tradition--they challenge exclusionary, universalizing tendencies in genre paradigms. Although each author aims to formulate a self-identity outside premeditated social constructions, all three also strive to create an artistic ethos that is inclusive, open to multivalent perspectives, and endorses polyphonic discourses. These three writers employ what I term erotic metafiction, a writing technique embodying the infinite possibilities of lived experience to inscribe language with inexhaustible potential. In chapter one Carole Maso's The Art Lover (1990) extends the formative and emotional prospects for the novel as an artistic expression. Metafictional strategies such as frame stories, narrative fragmentation, infusing graphics and inserting a biographical account into the novel create a multivocal reading experience. This disintegration of definable boundaries within the novel challenges the reader to construct his or her own experience from the disparate elements in the creative presentation. In chapters two and three I argue that Rikki Ducornet's The Fan-Maker's Inquisition (1999) and Joanna Scott's The Manikin (1996) interrogate the ways in which historical narratives are analogous to fictional artifacts in their distinctly one-sided construction. Ducornet's The Fan-Maker's Inquisition challenges definitive social constructions by invoking a Sadeian economy of desire. A fictional Sade and his friend, Parisian fan-maker Gabrielle, enact a subversive counter-language embedded in the imagination to manipulate and falsify prohibitive cultural activities. Scott's The Manikin incorporates Gothic conventions to parody essentializing tendencies in the historicization process to enact new or hidden possible realities outside totalizing orthodoxy.