She is! Tracing the evolution of the female sexual narrative in creative nonfiction writing
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This project explores the structures of four female-authored nonfiction sexual narratives: Anaïs Nin's Henry and June, Catherine Millet's The Sexual Life of Catherine M., and Maggie Nelson's Bluets and The Argonauts and discusses how each author chooses to portray that sexual narrative. These texts span a period of over seventy years and three feminist movements. Writing the parts of her diary that will become Henry and June in the early 1930s, Nin employs a gendered hierarchy when describing her sexual partners and experiences. In 2001, Millet inverts that hierarchy in The Sexual Life. In 2009 and 2015 respectively, Maggie Nelson utilizes the lyric essay in both Bluets and The Argonauts and escapes that hierarchy, producing texts that embody what Hélène Cixous called "feminine writing". Ultimately, this paper argues that Cixous's term "feminine writing" is no longer accurate and these texts should be considered examples of "queer" writing instead. This paper draws both on feminist scholarship and on critical work written about the essay form.
Access is limited to the University of Missouri--Columbia