Rethinking the Homeric Hero in Contemporary British Women’s Writing: Classical Reception, Feminist Theory and Creative Practice

Ruth MacDonald

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Sustained engagements with ciphers of traditional Homeric stereotypes can be found in a number of texts written by women. This thesis will examine how three texts in particular, Elizabeth Cook’s Achilles (2001), Gwyneth Lewis’s A Hospital Odyssey (2010) and Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients (2012), allow an argument to develop for the centrality of various strategies and perspectives, such as embodiment and intersubjectivity. I suggest that the figuration of the nomad, as articulated in the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Rosi Braidotti in particular, is key to understanding both twenty-first century experiences and expressions of corporeality, as well as receptions of the Homeric hero in women’s writing today. Heroic bodies in Cook, Lewis, and Tempest are vulnerable and liminal, oscillating between borderlines or lurking at the margins, disrupting heteronormative systems and structures by transgressing boundaries, codes and limits in the relationship between value, the body and the mind as traditionally understood. Though in some obvious ways distant, the Homeric heroic body nevertheless retains a resonance and influence in twenty-first century British cultural understandings. This thesis thus explores the role of an ‘intimate other’ (the Homeric hero) in engaging classical reception, feminist politics and contemporary women’s writing in dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Spentzou, Efrossini, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 May 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017

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