Presentation Title

Into the Abyss: Self-Destruction and Rebirth in Moshfegh’s "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" and Kang’s "The Vegetarian"

Location

Online - Session 1B

Start Date

4-21-2021 10:30 AM

Major Field of Study

English

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Carlos Rodriguez, MA

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

This paper examines the use of the body as a “direct locus of social control”, reclaimed by female protagonists through radical behaviors, employed as acts of social rebellion and resistance in two contemporary works of fiction: Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The self-elected methods adopted by these women aim towards self-destruction, through both the socially constructed (intelligible/symbolic) and material female body (useful body), and self-preservation, through the purification of body/soul in a quest for psychological/spiritual redemption/rebirth. My inquiry into the process of rebirth through destruction as undergone by the two female protagonists in each respective work will examine the ways in which social and cultural oppression push both women to radical extremes, and to explore the gendered implications of mental illness, human/animal/nature alterity and a return to primordial states of being as means to resist and (r)eject themselves from the symbolic, and to create new sites of possibility by means of opening the barriers to the subconscious, by enacting the impossible/ unthinkable and shattering forms of rationality that uphold restrictive notions of success, wellness and happiness. Through my analysis, I hope to achieve a social commentary pertaining to the cultural standards of health and wellness and the ensuing establishment of unachievable standards curated within the framework of a patriarchal society where the the upholding of such notions operate as tools of oppression, marginalization, and as a means to justify the aggressions which maintain specific social hierarchies of power.

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Apr 21st, 10:30 AM

Into the Abyss: Self-Destruction and Rebirth in Moshfegh’s "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" and Kang’s "The Vegetarian"

Online - Session 1B

This paper examines the use of the body as a “direct locus of social control”, reclaimed by female protagonists through radical behaviors, employed as acts of social rebellion and resistance in two contemporary works of fiction: Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The self-elected methods adopted by these women aim towards self-destruction, through both the socially constructed (intelligible/symbolic) and material female body (useful body), and self-preservation, through the purification of body/soul in a quest for psychological/spiritual redemption/rebirth. My inquiry into the process of rebirth through destruction as undergone by the two female protagonists in each respective work will examine the ways in which social and cultural oppression push both women to radical extremes, and to explore the gendered implications of mental illness, human/animal/nature alterity and a return to primordial states of being as means to resist and (r)eject themselves from the symbolic, and to create new sites of possibility by means of opening the barriers to the subconscious, by enacting the impossible/ unthinkable and shattering forms of rationality that uphold restrictive notions of success, wellness and happiness. Through my analysis, I hope to achieve a social commentary pertaining to the cultural standards of health and wellness and the ensuing establishment of unachievable standards curated within the framework of a patriarchal society where the the upholding of such notions operate as tools of oppression, marginalization, and as a means to justify the aggressions which maintain specific social hierarchies of power.