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Röstens anatomi: läsningar av politik i Elin Wägners Silverforsen, Selma Lagerlöfs Löwensköldtrilogi och Klara Johansons Tidevarvskåserier
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the voice in Elin Wägner’s novel Silverforsen (1924), Selma Lagerlöf’s Löwensköld trilogy (1925–1928) and Klara Johanson’s causeries in the feminist weekly newspaper Tidevarvet 1923–1924, in relation to women’s suffrage. Swedish women were finally granted the right to vote in 1921. The female political voice arroused high expectations of societal change: the female body was supposed to provide a female perspective on politics. However, the connection between the body and the voice was imagined differently by different theorists of emancipation. Therefore, in order to pinpoint the functions of the voice, the functions of corporeality need examination as well. The readings of the novels and causeries by Wägner, Lagerlöf and Johanson reveal striking discrepancies in the functions of the voice in relation to corporeality.

The examination of the functions of the voice includes an account of the genre, the mood and the narrator’s voice as well as the characters’ ability to speak and the workings of the voice in the societies established in Silverforsen, the Löwensköld trilogy and Johanson’s causeries. A central argument of the dissertation concerns Wägner’s, Lagerlöf’s and Johanson’s various constructions of identity. Identity proves to be of equal importance to legitimate political action. Though, while Wägner’s notion of identity is based primarily on sex and inspired by the voice of God, Lagerlöf complicates the criteria for identity, featuring nationality, family and social class as primary distinctions. Johanson, for her part, rejects the idea of a shared gender identity all together. She still emphasises the need for politics to voice identity, although identity in her account includes only one single person.

Contemporary theories on gender by Ellen Key, Mathilde Vaerting, Rosa Mayreder, Otto Weininger, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Alexandra Kollontay and Olive Schreiner form a context for the relations between voice, corporeality and emancipation developed by the novels and causeries. The readings of the literary texts are also, in their turn, intended to shed light on the theories of emancipation. This study proposes a new metatheoretical model instead of the heavily criticized distinction between essentialism and constructivism, by focusing the relation between corporeality and meaning, using the rhetorical tropes to analyse these relations. The tropological model may specify the body of the early twentieth century identity politics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Bokförlaget h:ströms - Text&Kultur , 2008. , 441 p.
Serie Akademi, ISSN 1653-9575 ; 8
Keyword [en]
allegory, irony, bio-power, Selma Lagerlöf, Mathilde Vaerting, Rosa Mayreder, Fogelstadgruppen, feminist theories, Klara Johanson, eugenics, voice, lin Wägner, women’s movement, Tidevarvet, corporeality, identity politics, Ellen Key, feminist essentialism
Keyword [sv]
Elin Wägner, Selma Lagerlöf, Ellen Key, Tidevarvet, identitetspolitik, Fogelstadgruppen, ironi, röst, Mathilde Vaerting, feministisk teori kvinnorörelsen, särart, bio-makt, hygienism, Rosa Mayreder, Klara Johanson, kroppslighet, allegori
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1899ISBN: 978–91–7327–078-6OAI: diva2:142347
Public defence
2008-11-21, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15
Available from: 2008-11-04 Created: 2008-11-04 Last updated: 2013-07-25Bibliographically approved

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