Love : a discourse of corporeal vulnerability
Kuah, Ting Ting
Date of Issue2017-04-12
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
In response to Adrienne Rich’s challenge for women writers to “re-vision” love, this dissertation aims to demonstrate how contemporary women writers re-vision love as an ethical relation between self and other in romance narratives. By making use of Judith Butler’s concept of corporeal vulnerability in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence as my main theoretical framework, I propose that the re-vision of love is achieved through love as an ethical and political discourse of corporeal vulnerability. This paper also adopts a text-based approach and considers Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Emma Henderson’s Grace Williams Says It Loud and Cynthia Bond’s Ruby as its primary texts. Each primary text showcases how this discourse of love is a particular textual wounding in the narrative. These various types of textual wounding include the suspension in time in The God of Small Things, the shifting focalization in Grace Williams Says It Loud and the literalization of magical metamorphoses in Ruby. In turn, each textual wounding serves two functions. Firstly, each wounding conveys how a specific bodily communicative act contributes to an experience of corporeal vulnerability in love for both self and its other. My discussion shows how these bodily communicative acts are gazing, narrating and listening. Secondly, each wounding also invites the reader to participate in an experience of corporeal vulnerability by attempting to ‘close’ this wounding in his/her process of reading. These experiences of corporeal vulnerability by the reader consists of repeating the reading process in The God of Small Things; having no final, unmediated access to the first-person narrator’s interiority in Grace Williams Says It Loud; and suspending his/her disbelief of the magical happenings and accepting them as real events in Ruby.
Final Year Project (FYP)