Bodies that Speak: Mediating Female Embodiment in Tim Winton’s Fiction


Discusses Winton's representations of femininity, and particularly the close relationship between self-harm and the female body. 'What is the effect of Winton—often perceived as a quintessential (Western) Australian writer (cf. Bradley; Ben-Messahel)— constructing girls and women as prone to self-harming and self-threatening behaviour, and frequently associated with a (self-)destructive and 'deviant' sexuality? Looking at the intricate connections and similarities between most of Winton's novels with regards to their sentiment, character relationships and style—his first novel An Open Swimmer and his latest one, Breath, serving as starting and end points—I suggest that there has been a stagnation in character portrayals, which leaves his works firmly grounded within the structures of a masculine economy. This is conveyed in problematic representations of femininity and corporeality as well as in the primarily inwards and backwards looking nature of Winton's stories.'

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Published 1 June 2012 in Volume 27 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literature and writers, Femininity, Literary criticism, Literary portrayal, Self harm, Women - Literary portrayal, Tim Winton.

Cite as: Schuerholz, Hannah. ‘Bodies that Speak: Mediating Female Embodiment in Tim Winton’s Fiction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 2, 2012, doi: 10.20314/als.341966273b.