Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Jaime L Harker

Second Advisor

Leigh Anne Duck

Third Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Abstract

This thesis argues that Dorothy Allison’s work—and specifically the women who hate me (1983), Trash (1988), and Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature (1994)—explores the unexpected alliances and radical difference and desire produced by interactions between fatness, queerness, and “white trashiness” on the terrain of late-twentieth-century representational and lived southern culture, and specifically how queer and “white trash” embodiments are both legible in terms of fatness, much in the way that gravy thickens in Allison’s writing to envelop and signify simultaneously lack and excess, shame and ecstasy, disgust and desire, and difference and community. Indeed, it is in the space between being shamed and branded “recalcitrantly material”—to borrow a term from Jay Watson’s Reading for the Body: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Southern Fiction, 1893-1985 (2012)—for her “white trash” body and appetites and exulting in her queerly, defiantly “outlaw” legibility that Allison advocates for and makes visible those she calls “born poor, queer, and despised”: a “subnation . . . stubborn and hungry for justice in an unjust world” (Skin 209).

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