Non-Binary Notions of Gender in Experimental Contemporary Anglophone Narratives

Robyn Dudic*


Within my dissertation project I aim to examine how contemporary anglophone narratives challenge and deconstruct a binary understanding of gender through different experimental strategies. Through this, I not only intend to gauge the current state of research surrounding non-binary identities within and outside of literary studies, but I also intend to argue for, and demonstrate, the relevance of literary studies and literary experimentation within this discourse. So far, there is a significant gap in research surrounding non-binary identities, especially within literary studies and narrative theory, and existing research focuses on a subversive understanding of non-binary notions of gender, where a gender binary is still maintained. Within this project, then, I intend to expand this to a deconstructive understanding of non-binary, where a binary gender system is challenged itself. In that regard, the contemporary primary literature corpus of this project presents different experimental strategies of deconstructing a binary notion of gender, which can be divided into three groups: experiments with narrative voice in Freshwater (2019) and The Lauras (2016), structural experimentation in What is Not Yours is Not Yours (2016) and How to be Both (2015), and experimentation with genre in The Argonauts (2015), All the Beginnings: A Queer Autobiography of the Body (2015), and Variations (2021). Furthermore, through this project I aim to show the necessity and relevance of more non-binary scholars within academia, and I intend to examine the applicability of the narratological toolbox for discussion these phenomena, and whether extensions or revisions are required.

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