Ria, a novel and an exegesis
Date of Issue2015
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This Ph.D thesis consists of a novel artefact, titled Ria, and an accompanying exegesis by the same name. The novel takes the Medusa mythology as derived from Hesiod’s Theogony, Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, and Canto IX of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, and places it within the fictional land of Manticura. Manticura, named after the mythological Manticora, is a speculative space that resembles Singapore in terms of its physical landscape, geographical location, and history. Manticura’s population is made of humans and the quasi-fantastic scereans, tuyuns, feleenese, and cayanese races, each with their own racial traits, histories and lands of emigrant origin. The narrative is largely centred on Ria, one of two medusa sisters, whose isolated rural life is overturned by the onslaught of displacing modernisation. In a single moment of misjudgement, Ria petrifies an entire village of innocents with her gaze. The novel then follows Ria through the next sixty years of her immortal life, in which she tries first to seek atonement for what she has done and later to build a life of peace, isolated from her sister and the community in the underground settlement of Nelroote. In this time she meets and starts a relationship with Eedric, before a turn of events disrupts the obscurity and safety of both Nelroote and the medusas it harbours.The exegesis examines the ways in which the theoretical ideas related to the ‘Medusan’ gaze come through within the figure of the novel’s title character. It is divided into three main bodies of argument: the first situates Ria within the critical genre of mythic revisionism and touches upon a few aspects of worldbuilding; the second looks at the construction of Barani’s and Ria’s gazes within existing premises of the look in the different structures of seeing; while the third deals with the intersections between the gaze’s creation of caesura and embodied memorialisation.