Eidola : Gender and Nation in the Writings of Penelope Delta (1874-1941)

Abstract: Penelope Delta was a writer of books for children in the beginning of the twentieth century in Greece. Delta was active when the national project was at its peak. Delta's own participation in the national project consisted of writing for children in a vernacular language and belonging to a group of intellectuals actively promoting modernization in other aspects than only political and technological. The main aim of the dissertation is to chart and analyze the relationship between gender and nation in Penelope Delta's work and life. Under the hypothesis that class, gender, race and ethnicity are discourses that, on a personal level, melt into each other, the discourses of ethnicity and gender are nevertheless in the centre of the study. When these discourses meet or cross each other, they sometimes harmonize but can also be a source of contradictions. It is these kinds of connections that are discussed in the dissertation. The approach is to discuss how these combinations and contradictions occur and how they are confronted on a personal level in the work of one particular person: Delta, who in herself is a product of, and produces networks of discourses. The focus is how she, in her personal life as well as in her books, ethically deals with the subject and subjectivity. It is my theoretical assumption that discourses such as gender, class, race and ethnicity work parallel to each other in a kind of discursive grid, where they are in harmony with or in contradiction to each other. The theoretical and methodological foundation are built upon the perception of the connection between identity and subjectivity. The discussion and analysis of the terms and their interrelation is based on elements of the theoretical and methodological frameworks provided by for instance Derrida and Foucault, primarily their arguments on ethics. The aim is thus to discuss how Delta is trying to construct and invoke and mediate ethical meaning to the national project of Greece. Formulating the subject's personal and intimate relationship to the nation, Delta's intention and participation in the national project is the argumentation of an individualistic position that, in a dynamic relationship with the nation, functions as operative ethical practices rather than fixed norms,which is otherwise often the case in political national discourse.

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