My ornament : writing women's moving, erotic bodies across time and space : a novel and exegesis

Gillespie, Christine (2008) My ornament : writing women's moving, erotic bodies across time and space : a novel and exegesis. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis is divided into two volumes, the creative work and the exegesis. The creative work, My ornament, is an Australian novel set in India. It explores - from a feminist perspective - issues of desire, subjectivity, agency and connection among three women and their moving, sexual bodies across time and space. In so doing, its aim is to place women at the centre of literary/critical discourse, emphasising connection rather than differences across cultures. The voices of the two main characters, Rachel and Muddupalani, alternate, cross over, merge and pull apart in the narrative that moves between the 18th and 20th centuries, Australia and India, with the third mythic woman, Radha, a textual presence in the poetry written by Muddupalani. The exegesis constructs an intellectual and fictional genealogy for the novel, situating it in a 21st century discursive space. While it is a work of Australian fiction - with an Australian author and protagonist - I suggest that it contributes to the following writing traditions: South Indian poetics and 18th century culture; Francophone women’s literary theory, in particular ecriture feminine; and notions of 'dancing desire'. This account of choreographing a fiction (of the self within a text) moves along intersecting planes through the liberatory spatio-temporal territory available in cultural nomadism and transnational feminist practice. Together, these two volumes create a new discursive space by linking seemingly disparate elements and fictional characters to create a region in which women - writing and dancing women - can connect and move freely across cultural and time zones; as heterosexual erotic beings, they articulate their desire and reflect it back through their art. It is recommended that the novel be read before the exegesis.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > RFCD Classification > 420000 Language and Culture
Keywords novels, creative writing, Australia, India, women, sexual desire, feminism
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