gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

This morning's work was much thought and a mere morsel of writing. The thought was on gender as performative and how thinking of gender as performative really does shape how we write our novels and who get to play what part. This fits in nicely with the discussion on Mary Victoria's blog this week (and I really need to give you a link to my post there) where the big question (to my mind) is what roles women are permitted to play in what literature. Add in the notion that one can be ungendered in terms of public role (while still having a gender in private life) and the roles women play in fantasy novels are suddenly much more interesting to look at.

I translate the private into the public and get my strong women that way. Glenda Larke initially gave them heroic stature (male performance) and is now finding other solutions. Nicole Murphy used romance as a background and writes the most purely gendered narrative in standard terms. The bottom line is that we're all trying to create women who play real roles (hence the performative link - although today I was looking at Medieval masculinities and how to effectively translate Medieval concepts of the heroic) and are neither passive nor 'men with breasts' (the discussion on Mary's blog keeps returning to that phrase - I get the feeling that people are enjoying it).

What I'm doing today is a kind of backwards translation. I've worked out the performative aspects of an ideal knight's tale - now I want to have it cause him problems as it conflicts with his reality. This really means that this morning was about sorting a plot arc. It's done, though and I have written up half the discussion.

For my next trick (and just for fun) I shall extrapolate performative aspects of gender for the lives of Canberrans. This is because the discussion on Medieval masculinities that I was re-reading this morning talked about widows as being effectively not female. It struck me that if gendering is partly performative (and includes linking back to ideas of femininity and masculinity) then there are a whole bunch of us who shift our roles and an interesting aspect of our everyday lives is a slight degree of gender confusion.

None of this is new in any way. It's just that I was writing it into my novel this morning and had to document some of it for my dissertation and so I'm blogging it as well. I always do this kind of thinking for my novels - this is the first time I've had to articulate it as I go, though, so it's the first time that it's been accessible to anyone else. If you call this accessible. It's really just public note-taking. If I do my job properly, readers enjoy the characters and the choices they make in the novel (at the end of the day) and are not bogged down in cultural contemplation. This doesn't mean I don't have to think it through, however. In fact, I get to explore these ideas for my fiction far more than when I write an article. Which is why I'd rather write a novel than an article.

If your eyes lit up when you saw the phrase 'Medieval masculinities' here is a good place to start.

And now I must go. My next three hours are devoted to Conflux, heart and soul. Then I return to my Medieval masculinities for the evening.

This is a very good day.
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