Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Erotic literature remains a blind spot in modern or contemporary literary criticism, even though sex and sexual identity is a widely accepted component of individual, social, and cultural identity. However, a careful investigation of erotic literature can provide valuable insight into how we constitute ourselves as subjects. Based on an understanding of the erotic and erotic literatures as sites of resistance, bonding, and belonging, I explore how the erotic--and consequently texts and ideology that privilege the erotic--remains a powerful site for negotiating power, constructing identity, and forming new intimacies. The primary modalities of the erotic are difference and interconnectedness. It is through this modality that erotic narratives critique the socio-historical violations and fissures of identity and subjectivity, yet simultaneously promote re-membering through the flows and processes of knowing and becoming, all while inhabiting integrity. Connecting these definitions of eroticism with the concept of "integral space" and the politics of integrity, I argue that eroticism and erotic literature map the processes by which subjects connect and bond through difference. Beginning with the ways in which erotic literature uses silences and absences in its texts, I explore the possibility of a prediscursive body paradoxically located in the language of erotic literature. While erotic theories explore the ways in which naming and speaking the deeply private, silent spaces of oppression, trauma, and abuse are powerful acts of resistance to cultural and social oppressions, works by Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lorde, as well as Kalamu ya Salaam and Etheridge Knight, suggest that silence, too, is a powerful force that leads to wholeness, healing, and connecting. Further, I investigate discursive and nondiscursive strategies in the erotic novel The Proof of the Honey by Salwa Al Neimi and Gayl Jones's Corregidora and how these literature employ body, voice, and metaphor as part of the erotic project. Each of these texts, I argue, reclaim the erotic space where individual subjectivities can meet each other, explore sexual boundaries, trangress those boundaries safely, and challenge the social, political, and historical limitations of identity.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Esquivel, Anna Maria, ""Poetry Was There Between Us": Women's Erotic Literature as Sites of Resistance and Integrity" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 484.