Contending With Feminism: Women's Health Issues in Margaret Atwood's Early Fiction
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Margaret Atwood's early fiction provides a valuable insight into issues surrounding the establishment of the women's health movement. From The Edible Woman in 1969 to The Handmaid's Tale in 1985, Atwood's work takes up key issues of the movement during this time. Her fiction explores a number of women's health topics including contraception, abortion, birthing, assisted reproductive technologies, eating disorders and breast cancer. Atwood's interest in the appearance of victims in Canadian literature, however, leads to a rejection of the notion that women are fated victims of patriarchal institutions like medicine. This thesis argues that while she does not deny women can be victims, she refuses to accept that this role is inevitable. Foucault's later constructions of power and resistance are explored with the female protagonists refusing to believe their situations are inescapable. Atwood's recognition of her role as a popular fiction writer and her refusal to wear the 'feminist' label allow her the space to critique the women's health movement. Her early fiction exposes the absolutism of the movement and demonstrates its limitations in accounting for women's diversity.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Arts, Media and Culture
Item Access Status
women in literature