A masculine circle : the charter myth of genius and its effects on women writers
This dissertation examines the concept of artistic genius and its workings\ud as a functional ‘charter myth’, helping to inscribe, enhance and perpetuate\ud discriminative practices against women within the field of literature in general\ud and novel writing in particular.\ud As an active agent as well as symbolic representation of some core\ud patriarchal values such as the innate supremacy and thus justified dominance of\ud men, the concept of genius operates in the following manner: Firstly, through its\ud multiple mythical elements such as the untruth of its affirmations surrounding\ud creativity combined with a paradoxical ability to nevertheless produce evidence\ud for its seeming accuracy; its inherent narrative structure featuring a prescribed\ud genius hero and tale and the latter’s powerful mythical allure, all of which help to\ud push the prominence of genius despite its continued academic deconstruction.\ud Secondly, through the subtle yet powerful gendering of the protagonist and plot\ud pattern it provides, containing a clear blue-print for a hero with a male body\ud complemented or opposed by a subordinate, non-genius female.\ud This gendered mythical pattern directly affects women writers in a variety\ud of manners. On the one hand, it assists the lastingly biased reception of women\ud authors, pre-imposing genius-inscribed beliefs of female inferiority onto literary\ud judgments, thus cyclically perpetuating that belief. On the other – and most\ud importantly for this thesis – the myth of genius also has an inward bearing on\ud many female writers, impeding their creative process and development especially\ud through the myth’s complex interaction with self-confidence as one of the core\ud features necessary for a successful completion of literary projects such as novels.
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