Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Christopher Orchard, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Todd Thompson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gail Berlin, Ph.D.

Abstract

This thesis is an exploration xenophobia, the commodification of women’s bodies, and the construction of personhood in feminist dystopias. Through this analysis of various works it is shown that women and nature are largely ignored in classic male-authored dystopic works, which favor technology and male characters, while female-authored works are able to give more time to women and nature without ignoring the issue of technology. In examining these trends, ecofeminism is discussed as a theoretical lens, in which Val Plumwood's idea of binaries and dualism in western culture is crucial.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are used to establish a status quo for male-authored dystopias which is then contrasted with various female-authored dystopias such as Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, Octavia Butler’s Dawn, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, culminating in the final chapter with explores Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy in depth and brings together all the previously discussed themes and issues from the other novels. This trilogy connects the constructions of personhood with genetically modified organisms/alien life-forms, xenophobia, and the commodification of women’s bodies. Atwood clearly shows the various ways that women construct identities and visions of personhood through their actions, even in a world that attributes them with no intrinsic power.

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