IJLLL 2016 Vol.2(3): 90-95 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2016.2.3.73

Bodies (Re) Gained: Gender and Identity in Elif Shafak’s Pinhan and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

Begüm Tuğlu
Abstract—The definition of gender has been a source of great controversy. As Michel Foucault argues in The History of Sexuality, since the seventeenth century the Western outlook upon sexuality is rather in the form of suppression due to certain ideological manipulations through the rise of capitalism. This understanding of sexuality was directly connected to one's biological condition which determined whether the individual was a man or a woman, never leaving place for the in between. With this perspective, the repressed society founded upon the sacred bonds of marriage and the institution of family cut out roles for both men and women which defined their gender roles. These roles were mere performances, as Judith butler would argue later on, however, they had great impact upon the formation of identities for a long time. I argue in alliance with critics such as Stuart Hall that the conception of identity does not have an ultimate ending since it constantly transforms, shifts and takes up new meanings along the way. I further assert that gender, as a vital part of identity formation, carries the same essence, however, it cannot be restricted neither to biological nor temporal nor spatial limits. In order to demonstrate the transformative and transgressive stance of gender and identity, I intend to explore how the novels Pinhan (The Mystic) by Elif Shafak and Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf cross the thresholds of time and space. The two androgynous protagonists of the novels express the uniqueness of identity formation in terms of gender in spite of the differing repressive societies they live in. Even though both novels were written by authors from different eras and different cultural backgrounds, they take upon a similar approach to the issue of gender in their own unique ways.

Index Terms—Comparative literature, gender, identity, sexuality.

Begüm Tuğlu is with Ege University, Turkey (e-mail: tuglubegum@gmail.com).

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Cite: Begüm Tuğlu, "Bodies (Re) Gained: Gender and Identity in Elif Shafak’s Pinhan and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 90-95, 2016.

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