Both Alice Walker and Dorothy Allison create female protagonists who face corporeal oppression in their works The Color Purple and Bastard out of Carolina, respectively. It these protagonist’s feminine gender that allows the men in their lives to control them. Connecting these two authors and validating there assertions of the power of patriarchy to oppress women through the physical body, is author Lillian Smith and her work Killers of the Dream. There is a connecting thread running through these works that explains the reign of patriarchal oppression in the South: Christianity. Women, especially those in the Christian culture of the South, are oppressed in many ways, but are oppressed most fundamentally by their physical bodies. Smith, Allison, and Walker present stories of a reclaiming of the body. They explore the subversive power the female body possesses demonstrating the capability of women to find a means of retaliation through their bodies, a theory posited by philosopher Elizabeth Grosz in her work Volatile Bodies. Grosz’s theory presents a new lens to examine these southern works and their contributions to both the Southern and feminist canon.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Nikolai Endres
English Language and Literature
Felkins, Shawna F., "Bones, Frogs, and Killers: The Corporeal Oppression of Women in the Patriarchal, Christian South" (2013). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 390.