AbstractMy project is in the field of creative writing and consists of two related parts: a Bildungsroman of approximately 75,000 words and an essay of approximately 20,000 words. My novel, All Girl Live Action, is set between 1986 and 1988 and tells the coming-of-age story of Niamh Donnelly, who leaves her family home in Northern Ireland to live at the women's peace camp at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England. She falls in love with a fellow protester, a Canadian named Kaya. Eight months later Kaya betrays the camp to a tabloid journalist and leaves in disgrace. Niamh follows her to London and becomes involved in the feminist "sex wars " of the 1980s and the campaign against Clause 28 of the Local Government Act. She enters a marriage of convenience with a gay man and cares for him as he die of Aids. Niamh’s relationship with Kaya becomes increasingly abusive until, eventually, Kaya's behaviour becomes dangerous, and Niamh has to act to save herself.
The essay looks at the development of the Bildungsroman and the critical literature that has attempted to define the form before moving on to locate the Bildungsroman of homosexuality within the non-normative tradition that includes feminist and postcolonial revisions of the genre and that Franco Moretti calls the Bildungsroman of the Other. There is a significant body of scholarly work on the feminist, black and postcolonial Bildungsroman but very little published research on homosexuality in the form. The handful of critics who have engaged with the issue explicitly in terms of genre have tended to re-designate it the "coming-out novel."
This attempt to wipe the slate clean fails to take into account the fact that there has always been a queer presence in the Bildungsroman, going right back to the accepted prototype of the genre, Wilhelm Meister 's Apprenticeship and the character of Mignon. I focus particularly on the work of Bonnie Zimmerman, as the only critic to have attempted to delineate, Jerome Buckley-style, a homosexual variant of the Bildungsroman. The second part of the essay discusses Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and The Line of Beauty as Bildungsromane of homosexuality. I explore themes of heterosexuality and marriage, sexual awakening, homophobia, the closet, social integration and coming out in these texts. The novels I study, as well as informing my discussion of homosexuality in the Bildungsroman, have served as models for my own fiction.
|Date of Award||Jul 2015|