Title page for ETD etd-10132012-095150

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Donaldson, Eileen
Email donale@unisa.ac.za
URN etd-10132012-095150
Document Title A chronology of her own : the treatment of time in selected works of second wave feminist speculative fiction
Degree DLitt
Department English
Advisor Name Title
Prof D Medalie Supervisor
  • patrilinear time
  • women’s time
  • feminist speculative fiction
  • Second Wave feminism
  • Octavia Butler
  • Marge Piercy
  • Joanna Russ
  • Ursula Le Guin
  • Tanith Lee
  • Sheri Tepper
Date 2012-09-06
Availability unrestricted
Prior to the 1960s and 1970s most studies of time undertaken in the West treated it as an objective phenomenon, devoid of ideological inscriptions. Second Wave feminists challenged this view, arguing that time is not neutral but one of the mechanisms used by patriarchal cultures to subjugate women. The argument was that temporal modes, like everything else in patriarchal reality, had been gendered. Linear time was masculine because it was associated with the male-dominated public domain in which science, commerce and production took place. The natural world, mysticism, the private domain, domesticity and women were relegated to a cyclical temporality that was gendered feminine. In her paper “Women’s Time” Julia Kristeva suggests that three generations of feminism can be identified according to the attitude each takes to time. I use her hypothesis as a framework in order to examine the positions regarding time taken up by various feminist groups during the Second Wave. I identify liberal and socialist feminisms with Kristeva’s first generation because they criticised the fact that women had been left out of linear time and the public domain and demanded that women be reinserted into linear time. I argue that Kristeva’s second generation is represented by cultural feminists of the Second Wave who recognised an alternative women’s time and suggested that women celebrate their connection with it, defying the authority of patrilinear time to dismiss “women’s experiences”. I then propose that the perspective of Kristeva’s third generation may be identified in the work of six authors of feminist speculative fiction who were writing during the Second Wave; this perspective entails a synthesis of the two previous opposing viewpoints. This can be identified in these novels because the female protagonists are first empowered through their access to an alternative (“feminine”) temporal space that subverts the authority of patriarchal culture embedded in linear time and then they move back into patrilinear time, claiming active roles and challenging patriarchal ideology. In this thesis I thus focus on the feminist examination of time during the Second Wave and consider how it was reflected in selected works of feminist speculative fiction written at the time. The authors discussed are Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy, Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, Tanith Lee and Sheri Tepper.

© 2012 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Donaldson, E 2012, A chronology of her own : the treatment of time in selected works of second wave feminist speculative fiction, DLitt thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10132012-095150/ >


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