Cleaving to the scene of shame: Stigmatized childhoods in the End of Alice and Two Girls, Fat and Thin

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Abstract

This article addresses the ambivalent treatment of shame in Mary Gaitskill's Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991) and A. M. Homes's The End of Alice (1996), examining shame's relation to identity, gender, and narrative (particularly women's writing). It reads the "cleaving to" the childhood scene of shame in these narratives of child abuse as a process of simultaneous identification and disidentification with/ from that scene of shame, and references recent theoretical work on shame, child abuse, and the "queer child." Finally, it considers how the critical reception of the novels, and the authors' own pronouncements, reveal both the continuing imbrication of femininity and shame, and the defeminizing effects of writing shame, for women writers. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-327
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Women's Writing
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

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