Volume One: Dietland; Volume Two: The Personal Is Political: Writing Dietland, Raising Resistance

Sarai Walker

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis includes a novel, Dietland, and an exegesis that provides commentary on the novel’s construction and an analysis of some of the critical debates associated with it.

Volume One: The novel makes an original contribution to knowledge by exploring a fat woman’s consciousness and chronicling her resistance to normative femininity in a way that has never been done in a work of fiction in English. The novel examines the ways that the protagonist’s fat body has positioned her in society and formed her subjectivity as a marginalized individual. At the beginning of the narrative, the protagonist is desperate to shrink in size. A strange series of events compels her to leave her familiar surroundings and enter into a world of feminist politics and community, where her assumptions about her body and her reasons for wanting to lose weight are questioned. The protagonist begins to think critically about the feminine body and how it is socially constructed within a system of male dominance.
The novel explores the protagonist’s process of consciousness-raising and the various modes of resistance available to her, including individual change, political action and violence.

Volume Two: The exegesis provides an examination of Dietland as a contemporary novel that uses techniques of Second Wave feminist ‘consciousness-raising novels’ to enable resistance to 21st century cultural norms of the feminine body. Dietland uses aesthetic strategies that foreground the idea that the “personal is political.” The protagonist, by sharing her story of consciousness-raising and resistance to normative femininity directed at the body, provides the reader with a path to resistance as well. The exegesis will focus in particular on normative femininity, the practice of consciousness-raising and the link between consciousness-raising and fiction, which will help position Dietland as a novel of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Jones, Susanna, Supervisor
Award date1 Aug 2014
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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