Date of Graduation
In the novels Lady Oracle, The Handmaid's Tale, and Cat's Eye, I locate and name the sites of memory to show how Atwood's protagonists appropriate them as their loci of resistance. The localized sites though marginalized are within the realm of representation; however, the "space-offs," a term I borrow from film theory, are beyond "the ideological." In these sites women create and/or validate counter-discourses that enable them to set up "politics of oppositionality" and provide them with a distance necessary to question the hegemonic. The localization of the sites eventually leads to the body as site. I acknowledge the changing representation of memory in current discourse to introduce the process of memorization, a recuperative strategy that validates women's memories and experiences. An understanding of the process of repetition, of the constructedness of memory, of the impact of memory via media, and of the body itself as a site is crucial to my reading of memorization in Atwood's works. Memorization transforms the marginalized and the oppressed within societies, and the transformations occur when subjects memorize their differences as a sign of power and embrace them. The subjects recall and reconstruct individual and collective history, and in doing so examine and question the dominant paradigms of the social structure. I adapt postcolonial theories, gender studies, and film theory to carry out interpretations of cultures that shape and condition women's memories. These theories examine representations of women and reveal their relegation to the margins from where they make come-backs in subversive ways when they are not subsumed by the system. The identification of those spaces where women have marked their difference lead to the visibility of the sites of resistance as well as the social frames that subjugate women. When these sites or spaces are "outside" of the ideological space, I ask why, what keeps them there, and what it will take to empower the marginalized. I point out that "powerlessness" is not an essentialized or natural condition but a gender construct. By inhabiting the "space-off," and continually crossing back and forth, women are making themselves visible; they expose the systems that limit their energies and control their bodies. In making the sites or spaces visible, they direct attention to the blind spots that veil social dis-ease. All three novels that I study involve breaking social, cultural and spatial boundaries: individual stories are relocated in another space when processed by the protagonists. The Other Side, the tapes, and the canvas become the sites of memory; hence the re-siting of memory. While these sites are symptomatic of the ideological practices that relegate the Other to the margins and beyond, they reflect the resistance encoded in them.
Palecanda K, Uma Devi, "Re-siting memory: Reading resistance through memorization in three Margaret Atwood novels." (1996). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9550.