Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Adele Davidson, PhD

Abstract

“As a Woman is Above a Worm:” Dystopian Femininity in British Interwar Novels is invested in the strategies of power that interwar dystopias written by women employ to regulate aspects of the female identity, namely religion, gender performativity, and reproduction. Charlotte Haldane’s 1926 Man’s World and Katharine Burdekin’s 1937 Swastika Night make use of these technologies to capture, control, and interpellate the actions of women in dystopian conditions while simultaneously giving insight into the anxieties for women of the interwar era. Haldane’s proto-feminist work strives for a reparation for women, within the dystopia as within the cultural moment, by appropriating technologies of eugenics for the purpose of creating a more utopian vision in which all genders can live without prescription. Without countering the direct threat of a fascist restriction of women’s identities, Man’s World fails in its attempt for feminist reparation. Swastika Night offers a more culturally prophetic vision of both a fascist dystopia and a reparative feminist futurity. The cultural work of premonition done by both novels has been overlooked due to the works’ lack of widespread publishing. Half a century later, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 The Handmaid’s Tale provides a feminist dystopian work that both precipitates political protest and demonstrates a true feminist reparation for women under dystopia, as it flows from the spring of appropriated tactics of subject formation.

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