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Fiona Martinez

Authentic Relationships in Contemporary Fiction: A Feminist Endeavour


Research centre
Humanities Research Centre

Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

My project will focus on the use of romance and the romance genre within contemporary women's literature, and the extent to which its creation of authentic relationships is a feminist endeavour. Combining Jean-Paul Sartre's interest in existential authenticity and his views on the need for authenticity within relationships I will be examining the work of Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson and considering the ways in which they have created representations of 'authentic love' within their literature through the re-writing of the romance genre.With Sartre’s theory, and belief that authenticity within a romantic relationship was possible, I will consider the extent to which contemporary women writers mirror this belief within their literature. I will aim to use this research to question borders between high and low culture through an exploration of the practice of romance writing by contemporary women writers and a consideration of whether the current boundaries are typical of, and help define,a contemporary female aesthetic which re-writes the romance.

Key references

ELAM, Diane (1992) Romancing the Postmodern, London, Routledge

RADWAY, Janice A. (1984) Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature,Carolina, The University of North Carolina Press

SARTRE, Jean-Paul (1992) Notebook for an Ethics, Chicago, Chicago University Press

MURPHY, Julien S. (1999) Feminist Interpretations of Jean-Paul Sartre, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania University Press

CLEARY, Skye (2015) Existentialism and Romantic Love, New York, Palgrave Macmillan

DAVIS, Emily S. (2012) Rethinking the Romance Genre: Global Intimacies in Contemporary Literary and Visual Culture, New York, Palgrave Macmillan

Director of studies
Professor Steve Earnshaw

Dr Katharine Cox

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