Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Leigh A Duck

Second Advisor

Jaime Harker

Third Advisor

Annette Trefzer

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

In Borderlands/La Frontera Gloria Anzaldúa describes her experience undergoing a dental procedure as a battle between her wild tongue and the dentist. Beginning with a discussion of Anzaldúa’s concept of the wild tongue, this project asks how writers across the US South depict unruly tongues and infelicitous speech. Methodologically, this thesis inverts the common reading model in literary studies of reading Third World writers through First World theorists. Instead, beginning with Anzaldúa, I propose to reverse this process and assert a new reading methodology of reading First World writers through Third World theorists. The trope of the wild tongue will mobilize an examination of fiction from other souths than Anzaldúa’s geography of the US/Mexico border, thereby locating the open wound of the borderland as a certain condition of women’s experience that is both violent and productive. In particular this project will constellate various aspects of wild tongues and embodied borderlands in the fiction of Eudora Welty and Alice Walker. I have three objectives in this inquiry: first, to contribute to a conversation in New Southern Studies; second, to show how women’s bodies constitute embodied borderlands; and third, to show how class, race, gender, sexuality, and disability intersect in expressions of speech and silence. In the latter two objectives the fracturing of bodies correlates to the silencing of wild tongues.

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