Furious Females: Women's Writing as an Archive of Anger

Title: Furious Females: Women's Writing as an Archive of Anger
Authors: Hillsburg, Heather
Date: 2013
Abstract: Longstanding political, social, and academic debates surrounding women’s anger have followed a distinct pattern. On one hand, critics disparage women for writing and speaking in an angry voice, casting them as bitter, irrational, or they assign them the pejorative “angry feminist”. Women often respond to these critiques by defending their anger, and reframe this emotional response as a legitimate response to oppression. Despite the utility of this intervention, this debate has given rise to a binary structure where a woman’s anger is either a legitimate response to oppression, or an irrational emotional response. As a result, the alternative functions to women’s anger remain largely unexplored. Working against binary logic, this dissertation aims to reframe this debate, and answer the following questions: what are the alternative functions for women’s anger outside of the binary terms of this debate? How can literary representations of anger complicate this conversation? Drawing from affect theory, intersectional feminist theory, discourse analysis, feminist discourse analysis, philosophical discussions about emotion, feminist literary theory, and ongoing debates surrounding nostalgia, this dissertation explores the function of anger within contemporary Canadian and American women’s literature. Before undertaking literary analysis in subsequent chapters, this dissertation first develops a methodology of “imperfect alignment” to account for the tensions between affect theory and discourse analysis, the theories and methods that guide this research project. The second chapter explores the ways anger allows liminal subjects to come into view in Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues and Morris’s A Dangerous Woman. Chapter three explores the ways anger can interrupt and complicate compassionate reader responses to gender based abuse in Sapphire’s Push and Mosionier’s In Search of April Raintree. Chapter four explores the ways anger and nostalgia allow subjugated groups to link anger to domestic violence in Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire and We Were the Mulvaneys. Finally, this dissertation concludes with a brief analysis of feminist critiques of reason, and locates the findings of this project in relation to this scholarship. Ultimately, this research project nuances debates surrounding anger, and poses alternative readings of this emotional response.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24371
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