Beyond Bodies

Gender, Literature and the Enigma of Consciousness


“Articulations and expressions of gender can be destabilising, transgressive, revolutionary and radical, encompassing both a painful legacy of oppression and a joyous exploration of new experience.” Analysing key texts from the 19th to 21st centuries, this book explores a range of British and Anglophone authors to contextualise women’s writing and feminist theory with ongoing debates in consciousness studies. Discussing writers who strive to redefine the gendered world of “sexualized” space, whether internal or external, mental or physical, this book argues how the “delusion” of gender difference can be addressed and challenged. In literary theory and in representations of the female body in literature, identity has increasingly become a shifting, multiple, renegotiable—and controversial—concept. While acknowledging historical and cultural constructions of sexuality, “writing the body” must ultimately incorporate knowledge of human consciousness. Here, an understanding of consciousness from contemporary science (especially quantum theory)—as the fundamental building block of existence, beyond the body—allows unique insights into literary texts to elucidate the problem of subjectivity and what it means to be human. Including discussion of topics such as feminism and androgyny, agency and entrapment, masculinities and masquerade, insanity and emotion, and individual and social empowerment, this study also creates a lively engagement with the literary process as a means of fathoming the “enigma” of consciousness.
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Biographical Note

Daphne Grace is Professor of English, specializing in postcolonial and transnational literature, gender and women’s studies, in addition to British literature of the 19th to 21st centuries. She currently teaches at the University of the Bahamas, and has also previously taught at Sussex University, England, and Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus.

Table of contents

Chapter One: Cognition, consciousness and literary contexts Chapter Two: Forging roads into consciousness: rasa and the influence of emotion in Wuthering Heights Chapter Three: Isolating consciousness: secrets, silencing and insanity Chapter Four: Beyond the veils of consciousness: individual and collective awareness in the novels of George Eliot Chapter Five: Shifts into quantum consciousness: Virginia Woolf’s moments of being Chapter Six: Consciousness and freedom: women’s space in the twentieth-century Bildungsroman Chapter Seven: Beyond gender myths: Angela Carter’s feminist fables Chapter Eight: Transforming gender: passion, desire and consciousness Chapter Nine: Quests and questions of consciousness: Margaret Atwood’s post-human futures Chapter Ten: Consciousness and conscience: the ethics of enlightenment Bibliography Index