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Killer Plants & Gothic Gardeners: Gendered EcoGothic Monsters

From tentacled blood-suckers, to carnivorous exotics with a desire for human flesh to human-plant hybrids, plant monster fiction has received little attention within a Gothic context or from an ecofeminist perspective. My research aims to establish plant monsters as ecoGothic tropes by exploring how the gendered attributes of plant and gardener reflect cultural anxieties of their time and asserting their ecoGothic monstrosity through their consumption of humans. Emerging ecoGothic criticism has largely focused on bleak landscapes, dark forests and spectral settings, exploring nature in the Gothic genre with an ecocritical eye. Analysing plant monsters as distinctive tropes, I would argue, provides a concrete hybridisation of ecocriticism and gothic theories as ecoGothic. Drawing on ecofeminist concepts of interconnectedness, such as Stacy Alaimo’s material trans-corporeality and Nancy Tuana’s viscous porosity alongside Female Gothic theories of monstrosity and the grotesque, my research aims to demonstrate how the plant monster not only challenges androcentric socio-cultural interpretations (particularly the gender associations) but also presents a case for the (hu)man-eating plant as an ecoGothic monster.

This study will examine the emergence of a fragile, schizoid male subjectivity in American Gothic literature whose presence in domestic, or quasi-domestic, settings results in that setting becoming sentient, mutating, moving, expanding and contracting to torment the character until death or expulsion is forced upon him. At the core of my research will be Stephen King's The Shining, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves and Steve Rasnic Tem's Deadfall Hotel. I will be referencing the works of Derrida, R.D. Laing, Foucault, Badiou and Bachelard to identify the reasons for the development of this narrative trope from the 1970s and its proliferation post-2000 and explore the contemporary anxieties of the American male it represents.

The research aims to identify factors associated with attitudes to mathematics in 9-9 year old pupils in UK KS2 education. Through the use of quantitative methods, the research aims to identify if certain attitudes to mathematics are associated with demographic factors and beliefs towards gender ability.

The development of clothing concepts in response to analysis of changing gendered social attitudes.

This interdisciplinary study mixes practice and participant-based enquiry informed by phenomenology. It aims to understand the motivations of women who choose to wear male gendered clothing for fashion and to use this to question gender assignment in clothing, through practical experimentation. Fashions’ relationship with current social attitudes, particularly referencing gender assignment, will be explored. The PhD specifically aims to develop an experimental design approach by reviewing and reflecting on the process of constructing a series of garments which respond to women’s gender related preferences.

'Gender Politics: The Paratext In the Late 19th Century Feminist Periodical (Britain, c. 1888-1899): A Transdisciplinary Holistic Approach’

This thesis offers an interpretation of the feminist periodicals Women's Penny Paper, Woman's Herald and Woman's Signal, using an original modified version of linguist Gérard Genette's theory of the paratext as a methodology. It examines to what extent the gendered conventions of late nineteenth century Britain influenced the editorial identities of these general feminist periodicals, and whether emerging hybrid paradigms of late nineteenth century New Womanhood in any way challenged conventional patriarchal ideals. The findings reveal that the periodicals studied projected a voice that was critical of the established gendered norms, which manifested through a plethora of carefully orchestrated editorial choices.

Conferred 2017

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