You are here

Women with Issues: Feminist Literary Criticism, Alienation and the University

Giffel, Kaelie. Women with Issues: Feminist Literary Criticism, Alienation and the University. 2022. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

Studying contemporary women’s literature about alienation, “Women with Issues: Feminist Literary Criticism, Alienation and the University” argues for a methodology of reading that incorporates the reader’s subjectivity and a critique of larger structures. The novels I focus on draw our attention to affective registers, or a felt sense, of domination and alienation that demand the reader’s analysis of their own local patriarchies. My dissertation takes my experiences of harassment and burnout in my graduate education as its focus, though I explore other areas of my life. Each chapter describes an affective state of alienation through my own experience and the novel to consider social and historical causes for that state and possible remedies. Chapter 1 analyzes “fog” using Cho Nam-Joo’s Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 (2020) to understand the epistemic violence that attends the gendered socialization across multiple sites in my life and the protagonist’s story. I consider complaint as a form of storytelling that could build new worlds. Chapter 2 explores “numbance” using Anna Burns’ Milkman (2018) to study how binary logics (of gender or nation) can be destructive of interiority. I argue reading can open us up to the world despite the violence of our contexts, an opening that is politically generative. Chapter 3 studies “auto-aggression” using Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman is in Trouble (2019) to show the alienation of gendered and classed labor, both imaginative and physical, that leads to an alienation of thought. This foreclosure of thought is a foreclosure of imagining other worlds and relations. In a conclusion, I explain why I chose the novels I did, my dreams for graduate education, and the way this research will inform my current work as a violence prevention practitioner. I also include two short pieces of writing on the university produced on fellowship that speak to the concerns with storytelling and university politics.

Status of Research or Work: 
Research Type: