Kathryn Allan

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Sarah Brophy


This thesis focuses on the work of contemporary English writer Jeanette Winterson. Specifically, this project produces a geopolitical reading of Winters on's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), The Passion (1987), Sexing the Cherry (1989), and The PowerBook (2000). In my analysis, I draw on Michel Foucault and Judith Butler in order to comment on the roles of history and gender in the novels. More importantiy, I draw on the postcolonial theory of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, and Anne McClintock in order to perform what Susan Friedman terms a geopolitical reading. In the thesis, I argue that Winterson rewrites history in order to establish a legitimate lesbian identity, but her focus on individual desire and subjectivity necessitates the construction of a realm of delegitimated otherness in her work, which is inhabited by traditional imperial others.

In Chapter One, I first define the type of fiction V/interson creates, postmodern historiographic metafiction, and then explain how she uses the geme's specific techniques - such as magic realism, self-reflexivity, the conflation of history and story - to disrupt eenventienal notions of history and gender. Then -I explain, t1:rrougn a geopolificalreading, the way her work reiterates the imperial project of geographic mapping and racial othering. I begin my analysis of Winters on's first novel, Oranges, in Chapter Two, where I focus on rewriting personal history. My discussion then moves to The Passion and Sexing the Cherry in Chapter Three; there I consider the individual's role in history on a national level, and specifically examine the gendered geographic spaces Winters on creates and figures as either masculine and repressive, or as feminine and "liberated." In Chapter Four, I finish my argument with The PowerBook, wherein I consider the way Winterson wants to characterize cyberspace as a "global" space that frees individuals from the conventional constructions of history and gender. Like her previous work, however, The PowerBook recreates the same imperial hierarchies. Through my geopolitical reading, I conclude that while Winterson makes several innovative and important narrative moves towards developing historical space for alternative homosexual and feminine identities, she legitimizes these new subjects by maintaining the illegitimacy of the imperial others.

McMaster University Library

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