Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Working counter to the critical hegemonies of the New Modernist Studies, Deceptively Ingratiating Shapes assembles an unusual group of novels by twentieth- and twenty-first-century women writers that strategically combine traits of “literary” fiction with various conventions of popular genres. Through their recourse to the tools and tropes of fantasy, the historical novel, the Gothic, or the spy thriller, the women writers featured in this project repurpose old methods of telling women’s stories, reconfigure the means by which women lay claim to history, and rethink the shape and extent of women’s obligations to the communities around them. Under the term “feminist narrative politics,” I argue that imaginative works by Sylvia Townsend Warner, Rebecca West, Jeanette Winterson, Virginia Woolf, Bernardine Evaristo, Daphne du Maurier, Helen Oyeyemi, Elizabeth Bowen, and Kate Atkinson challenge readers to rethink assumptions about the genre of “women’s fiction” and to attend to women’s narratives as sites of cross-generational, feminist world-making.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Melanie Micir

Committee Members

Barbara Baumgartner, Kristin Bluemel, J. Dillon Brown, Vincent Sherry,

Available for download on Wednesday, May 21, 2031