The maternal metaphor: a study of 'the mother' in the novels of Elizabeth Jolley

Pamela June Bagworth

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated] Kristeva's work on maternity suggests the possibility of constructing a maternal metaphor which positions the mother at a pivotal site as a thoroughfare between 'nature' and 'culture' in a process that unsettles patriarchal constructions of subjectivity, representation and meaning. Kristeva describes language as a birthing process, creating a split symbolization on the threshold of symbolic structures and bodily drives. The maternal body functions as a representation of the postmodern construction of the splitting process of signification and the split and fragmentary subject. The split subjectivity that the mother represents interrogates traditional structures of language and society and offers a multiplicity of perspectives and positions for women's writing.

    Kristeva suggests that the maternal body functions as a threshold, maintaining and yet threatening socio-symbolic structures; as a filter for the repressed maternal or semiotic aspects of language and society; and as a thoroughfare which links the semiotic and symbolic. The maternal metaphor thus offers a linguistic model in which the process of subject formation and literary production are enacted in relation to the mother's body and the maternal metaphor allows for a recognition of the semiotic in language and the maternal in society.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Western Australia
    Publication statusUnpublished - 1993

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