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Construction and representation of identity in autobiographies of Croatian female writers in 19th and 20th century


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Perić, Martina. (2017). Construction and representation of identity in autobiographies of Croatian female writers in 19th and 20th century. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Comparative Literature.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij književnosti, izvedbenih umjetnosti, filma i kulture) [mentor Brešić, Vinko].

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The history of autobiography dates as far back as antiquity and the Middle Ages, but the theory of autobiography is developed only in the second half of the 20th century. As a result of its different and complex manifestations and of the (im)possibility to define autobiography as a genre, contemporary theories favour the idea of autobiography as a discourse. The feminist theory understands autobiography as a particular discourse that constitutes the female subject. As there have been no systematic and relevant studies of female autobiographies in Croatian science so far, this doctoral thesis will analyse the autobiographies of Croatian female writers who lived and worked in 19th and 20th century and try to show the basic characteristics of the autobiographical discourse, different types of subjects and identities, their constitution and representation in the text, as well as different policies of (self)representation. Criteria of analysis that will be considered: narratological categories such as narrative point of view (firstperson narrative, second-person narrative, third-person narrative), narrative time and space, furthermore types of autobiographical discourse, rhetorical and stylistic figures and conventions and acts of self-reference and intertextuality in autobiographical discourse of Croatian female writers. First criteria – narrative pont of view – shows us that first-person narrative is dominant and considered as usual and expected in the autobiographical discourse. However, in some of the texts analysed there is a tendency to evade the first-person narrative and use other narrative strategies, such as third- and second-person narrative. Such strategies can be interpreted as a sign of the turn in perspective view or narrative model or even experiment and subversion of the autobiographical subject. Second criteria – narrative time – shows us that Croatian female writers dominantly use the chronological approach in writing their autobiographies. One of the dominant characteristics of autobiography is its tendency to retrospective and reminiscence, and most of the texts analysed emphasise the importance of the past and chronological presentation of that past. However, some of the autobiographies show different type of autobiographical discourse, which is rather achronological, discontinuous and incoherent. Third criteria – narrative space – shows us the importance of both geographical and social (cultural) space in autobiographies of Croatian female writers. Most of the authors understand the social space as social construct and they write their autobiographies with the idea of positioning themselves in that social and cultural space. Autobiography is considered to be the type of discourse that allows its subject to position itself into the social, cultural, political sphere of life. Some of the authors emphasise the importance of deconstruction of the dichotomy public/private space, in terms of women's egalitarian participation in the public space and all the practices of social and political life. Fourth criteria – rhetorical and stylistic figures and different types of autobiographical discourses – shows us that Croatian female writers use different and numerous narrative and rhetorical sets and strategies in order to represent their autobiographical identity. There are autobiographies that demonstrate a higher level od literariness, and also those that demonstrate rather factographical or theoretical than literal type of discourse. The corpus shows us some examples of parodical and ironical approach to the autobiographical subject, as well as the multi-discoursive approach to constituting and representing the autobiographical subject. Fifth criteria – acts of self-reference and intertextuality – shows us proneness of Croatian female writers to a particular kind of textual strategies such as referring to the act of writing autobiography and awareness of that act and its subject which is a construct, or rather a product of cultural and linguistic models and narratives. The concept od intertextuality (in Kristeva's sense of the word) is found to be one of the strategies in establishing the dialogue amongst the autobiographical texts writen by Croatian female writers and totality of the cultural text that they refer to. Intertextuality is often actualized by quotation and even self-quoatiton (in such cases in which the author establishes the dialogue with other, non-autobiographical, texts in her literary work). Autobiographies of Croatian female writers show us the tendency of constituting and representing the relational type of autobiographical identity – in most of the texts analysed the emphasis is on the relation towards the world of literature and culture (which is understandable given the professional affiliatiton of the autobiographers). In some cases, the dominant ideology and cultural (literal) model of subject and selfhood is merely reproduced, and in some other cases it is being questioned and subject to criticism. Analysis and systematization of this insufficiently researched domain will hopefully give an initial incentive for the future research of female autobiographies.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiography, autobiographical pact, self-reference, identity, Croatian female writers, women's self-representation
Subjects: Comparative literature
Slavic languages and literatures > Croatian language and literature
Departments: Department of Comparative Literature
Supervisor: Brešić, Vinko
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij književnosti, izvedbenih umjetnosti, filma i kulture
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 11:27
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:27

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