Narratives of tomboy identity in fiction and film:\ud exploring a hidden history

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Foster, Ludovic (2016)
  • Subject: PN1993 | HQ0767.8 | PR0401

This thesis is an exploration of the tomboy figure across a range of literary and cinematic texts from the nineteenth century to the present day. The tomboy may seem to be a familiar cultural archetype, but my study also examines lesser-known, often marginalised aspects of the figure, with the intention of bringing to light new dimensions of tomboys and what they signify. Reaching beyond well-known stories, I have looked at tomboy representations outside the Eurocentric and North American versions, bringing in examples from the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and from within the postcolonial diaspora.\ud Exploring these various hidden tomboy histories has meant engaging with work on how the tomboy figure might ask us to rethink settled notions of childhood gender identity, of the queer child, and the very concept of childhood itself as a queer temporality. \ud Moving from a study of Wuthering Heights and nineteenth century children’s fiction, I consider more recent tomboys in a small number of international films (drawing here on concepts of embodiment, materiality and the sensuous experience of cinema) before investigating how tomboy figures relate to questions of ethnic subjectivity in novels by Jamaica Kincaid and Catherine Johnson. \ud By covering such a wide range of historical periods, genres and texts, the aim is to trace the complexities of the tomboy, a child figure that has always had strong connotations of gender transformation and gender rebellion, and is often associated with a playful and empowering otherness while conversely carrying with it the suggestion of reaffirming patriarchal, binary gender identities.
  • References (111)
    111 references, page 1 of 12

    Identity of Catherine Earnshaw ..................................................................................... 33 1.1 Emily Brontë: a Genderless Soul ..........................................................................................34 1.2 The Fathered/Motherless Tomboy ........................................................................................43 1.3 Cathy and Heathcliff: the Tomboy and Sissy Boy Alliance .................................................45 1.4 Revealing the Domestic and Acknowledging the Incomer...................................................50 1.5 A Twenty-first-century Cinematic Queering: the Decidedly Tomboyish Re-emergence of Catherine Earnshaw ....................................................................................................................54

    What Katy Did ................................................................................................................... 60 2.1 Passing Through: the Nineteenth-century American Tomboy, Disability, Race and Gender ..................................................................................................................................62 2.2 Sentiment, Language, Disability and Interior Space.............................................................68 2.3 Tomboy Movement, Sideways Growth and Bodily Resistance............................................75

    within Two Twenty-first-century Tomboy Films.......................................................... 87 3.1 Cinematic Representations of the Sensory Experience of the Misrecognised Tomboy .......................................................................................................................................91 3.2. Recognising the Queer Child Past and Present ..................................................................104 3.3 The Onscreen Emergence of Childhood Sexuality .............................................................108 3.4 Race, Gender and Images of Tomboy Androgyny..............................................................112 3.5 Sound Before Vision: the Queering of the Film Soundtrack ..............................................117 3.6 Reengaging with the Temporality of a Queer Childhood or Youth from the Vantage Point of the Present .....................................................................................................120

    Depictions of the Adorable Tomboy in Transnational Cinema................................. 122 4.1 The Currency of Cuteness: the Transnational Tomboy Performing Cuteness....................126 4.2 The Roots of the Myth of Childhood Innocence as a Western Construct...........................137 4.3 Cuteness and the Child of Colour in Transnational Film....................................................140 4.4 The Natural Performance, and an Interval of Animal.........................................................143 4.5 The Tomboy within a Landscape ........................................................................................155

    Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John...................................................................................... 203 6.1 Queering Maternal Bonds and Girlhood Kinships..............................................................203 6.2 Small, Important Acts of Decolonisation and a Reengaging with the Bildungsroman ....................................................................................................................217 6.3 Autobiography as a Refusal of Abjection ...........................................................................225

    Electronic Sources ....................................................................................................................249

    Abate, M.A. (2008) Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Ahmed, S. (2000) Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality, London: Routledge.

    Ahmed, S. (2004) The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

    -- (2006) Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, Durham (NC): Duke University Press.

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