Strange Bodies: Gender and Identity in the Novels of Carson McCullers

Strange Bodies Gender and Identity in the Novels of Carson McCullers Adapts Mikhail Bakhtin s theory of the grotesque as well as the latest in gender and psychoanalytic theory to the major works of acclaimed southern writer Carson McCullers This innovative reconsider

  • Title: Strange Bodies: Gender and Identity in the Novels of Carson McCullers
  • Author: Sarah Gleeson-White
  • ISBN: 9780817312671
  • Page: 441
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Adapts Mikhail Bakhtin s theory of the grotesque, as well as the latest in gender and psychoanalytic theory, to the major works of acclaimed southern writer Carson McCullers This innovative reconsideration of the themes of Carson McCullers s fiction argues that her work has heretofore suffered under the pall of narrow gothic interpretations, obscuring a subversive aAdapts Mikhail Bakhtin s theory of the grotesque, as well as the latest in gender and psychoanalytic theory, to the major works of acclaimed southern writer Carson McCullers This innovative reconsideration of the themes of Carson McCullers s fiction argues that her work has heretofore suffered under the pall of narrow gothic interpretations, obscuring a subversive agenda By examining McCullersOCOs major novelsOCo The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Member of the Wedding, and The Ballad of the Sad Caf r OCoGleeson White locates a radical and specific form of the grotesque in the author s fiction the liberating and redemptive possibilities of errant gender roles and shifting sexuality She does this by employing Bakhtin s theory of the grotesque, which is both affirming and revolutionary, and thereby moves McCullers s texts beyond the gloom and doom with which they have been charged for over fifty years The first chapter explores female adolescence by focusing on McCullers s tomboys in the context of oppressive southern womanhood The second chapter analyzes McCullers s fascinating struggle to depict homosexual desire outside of traditional stereotypes Gleeson White then examines McCullers s portrayals of feminine and masculine gender through the tropes of cross dressing, transvestism, and masquerade The final chapter takes issue with earlier readings of androgyny in the texts to suggest a useful concept McCullers herself called the hybrid Underpinning the whole study is the idea of a provocative, dynamic form of the grotesque that challenges traditional categories of normal and abnormal Because the characters and themes of McCullers s fiction were created in the 1940s and 1950s, a time of tension between the changing status of women and the southern ideal of womanhood, they are particularly fertile ground for a modern reexamination of this nature Gleeson White s study will be valued by scholars of American literature and gender and queer studies, by students of psychology, by academic libraries, and by readers of Carson McCullers Strange Bodies is a thoughtful, highly credible analysis that adds dimension to the study of southern literature.

    One thought on “Strange Bodies: Gender and Identity in the Novels of Carson McCullers”

    1. This is a really fantastic book--sadly out of print, it seems--about the gender and sexuality issues explored in the works of Carson McCullers. Gleeson-White couches it all in terms of Bahktin's idea of the grotesque as well as McCullers' notion of the freak. If you are a fan of McCullers, I recommend this book.

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