Insinuated Bodies, Corporeal Resignification and Disembodied Desire in Novels by Jeanette Winterson
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My dissertation examines the various ways in which the following novels written by Jeanette Winterson Written on the Body (1992), Gut Symmetries (1997), The.PowerBook (2000), and The Stone Gods (2007) interrogate and denaturalize preexisting power structures by disentangling the body from the discursively inscribed identity categories of gender and sex. Dominant conceptions concerning desire, commonly thought to be an innate byproduct of a wholly natural body, are likewise disrupted in the unraveling of gender and sex from corporeality. Desire is thus opened up to possibilities that exist beyond the limited purview of gendered, heterosexist ideologies. Much like the field of queer theory, this dissertation draws together different branches of knowledge poststructuralism and resignification, psychoanalysis, nomadism, posthumanism, cyborg narratives in order to closely analyze what Wintersons works do to bodies, to language, to gender, to sexuality. The novels studied here offer a way of re-insinuating bodies to desire in ways that are much more inclusive and much less prohibitive. Although my consideration of these novels critically engages with many theorists throughout, there are four key thinkers that helped to shape each chapter: Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Katherine N. Hayles and Donna Haraway. My first chapter examines the parallels between Butlers theory of the sex/gender/desire matrix and Written on the Body, assessing the novels twofold operation of resignification: the body is first extricated from its naturalization before becoming reformulated in ways that move outside of the framework of the current grand narratives on desire. My second chapter surveys the relationship between Grosz and the Deleuzian Bodies without Organs (BwOs) in Gut Symmetries, while my third chapter explores Hayless version of posthumanism alongside Haraways figure of the cyborg, in relation to The.PowerBook and The Stone Gods, respectively. These novels widen the cracks in the signifying system, shifting conceptions of materiality and desire elsewhere. If we are to acknowledge that desire does indeed come from outside rather than from within the subject, then sexuality can be dissociated from the subjects body subsequently endangering genders impact on how we conceive of our desire.