Rhetorical approaches to gender and human rights in contemporary transnational literature and cultural studies

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Belinda Walzer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Alexandra Schultheis Moore

Abstract: This dissertation extends the conversations surrounding human rights literature and its intersection with transnational gender studies and rhetorical theories. It does so through extended analyses of literary accounts of human rights abuses from Iran, South Africa, and Burma including Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, Sindiwe Magona's "Women at Work", and Wendy Law-Yone's The Road to Wanting. The project brings together these disparate global locations and scholarly fields by analyzing the pedagogical imperative that underwrites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent instruments. This pedagogy gives rise to a normative discourse and culture of rights, one that is both productive and problematic. The human rights literature under examination emerge out of that normative discourse of rights and both participate in and speak back to that normativity. Thus, the dissertation examines how narratives as cultural productions are both pedagogical and performative of the normative culture of human rights. Specifically, the dissertation brings transnational feminist discourses of selfhood as process rather than product, theories of identification, and visual rhetorics directly to bear on human rights concerns by rethinking rhetorical theories of both the speaking subject and transnational reader responsibility. In so doing it brings together and extends Judith Butler's concepts of post-sovereign subjectivity, Pheng Cheah's articulation of human rights as embedded in discourses of global capital, and theories of witness and rhetorical listening. Through a rhetorical approach to human rights literature informed by gender studies, this dissertation ultimately considers how these narrative representations also construct a transnational feminist readership. This readership recognizes the ways in which the texts that emerge out of the human rights regime can draw attention to, complicate, and/or remake that discourse.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Graphic Narrative, Human Rights, Pedagogy, Transnational Gender Studies, World Literature
Human rights in literature
Gender identity in literature
Literature, Modern $y 20th century $x History and criticism
Literature, Modern $y 21st century $x History and criticism

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