230556 The Dark Side of Femininity in the Age of 'Me Too': Narrating Gendered Violence in British and American Thrillers Since Gone Girl (S) (SoSe 2019)
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In this seminar, we are going to investigate narrative representations of gendered violence - mental as well as physical, with women as its victims as well as its perpetrators - in 'domestic thrillers', a currently extremely popular subgenre of women's crime fiction that has been spawned by the publications of the American Gone Girl (Flynn, 2012) and the British The Girl on the Train (Hawkins, 2015): in this type of fiction, evil does not lurk in a parking lot at night, but in (mostly white, middle-class) couples' homes and hearts. Always bearing in mind the question with what (women) readers' experiences they might resonate or to what fantasies they might speak in our own 21st-century moment, we will explore these narratives within two wider contexts: one is the literary tradition of the Female Gothic, a popular genre which had its first heyday in Victorian Britain and has since then provided powerful tropes and forms for (women) writers to imagine both the darkest threats to and fears of being female in patriarchal societies and fantasies to escape, overcome or even avenge these suffocating injustices; second is the cultural and social context of 21st-century 'Western' societies, which is marked by the strange coexistence of continuing structural violence against and oppression of women on the one hand and particularly younger women's claims to being fully 'empowered' and eschewing any identification with 'victim feminism'. This class is inspired by my own beginning-stages Ph.D. project, which is one more reason why I wish for it to assume a discussion-intense think-tank format that revolves around your questions as much as my own. Ideally, it opens up new avenues for research on an important subgenre of women's popular fiction that has not as yet been subjected to thorough scholarly investigation within a gender and literary / cultural studies framework.
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