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Perverse Desire and Lesbian Identity in Lydia Kwa's This Place Called Absence

This thesis aims to explore lesbian desire and sexual identity in Lydia Kwa¡¦s This Place Called Absence, beginning with the textual subversion of heterosexual norm, evolving through the author¡¦s mapping of butch/femme desire and concluding with the protagonist¡¦s formation of self-identity. Chapter One discusses how the text subverts the heterosexual norm through the erotic chaos created by queer characters. I will apply Judith Butler¡¦s notions of heterosexual matrix and gender performativity to look into the textual strategies of subversion. The appropriation of gender is not only a strategy of queer politics, but also the primary means by which lesbians articulate desire. To illuminate Kwa¡¦s mapping of lesbian desire, I apply Teresa de Lauretis¡¦s theory of lesbian fetishism in Chapter Two to examine how butches and femmes in the novel express their desire through manipulating gender signs. The masculinity fetishes are prone to social misunderstanding as penis envy and thereby arouse male hostility. The anxiety of lesbian characters with the paternal phallus will be the focus of the second part of the chapter. Chapter Three looks into how the protagonist establishes positive self-identity through reversing social stigma to empowering self-image in queer coalition. The queer coalition comprising gays and lesbians, nevertheless, cedes its place to equalitarian women¡¦s community at the end of the novel. The problems of the concept of universal women for lesbians will be discussed in the latter part of the chapter from the perspectives of Butler and de Lauretis. After probing into textual details, I will argue that the protagonist, in spite of her desire for female solidarity, ultimately identifies with queer coalition. In conclusion, I will regard the novel as a lesbian counter-discourse by summarizing its strategies of displacement, resignification and reversal of the heterosexual symbolic and foreground the multiplicity of desire and differences among lesbians against the reification of heterosexual symbolic.
Date23 June 2006
CreatorsChang, Kai-ying
ContributorsHuang Hsin-ya, Tee Kim Tong, Chang Shui-li
Source SetsNSYSU Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Archive
Detected LanguageEnglish
Rightsrestricted, Copyright information available at source archive

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