Example Abstract – Humanities



He Thought She was Cute but from Outer Space: Gender and the Comic-Grotesque in Lorrie Moore’s Like Life

Anna Muse* and Felicia Poet (Mentor), Department of English

Critics and reviewers of Lorrie Moore’s short fiction have paid special attention to her use of comedy, interpreting it as either a counter the loneliness and isolation her characters, often urban intellectuals displaced in rural cities, suffer over the course of her narratives; as a risk that threatens to sabotage the emotional resonance or seriousness of her art; as an timely evocation of the absurdity of contemporary American life; or as a bivalenced postmodern strategy, a self-reflexive comment on the nature of storytelling. What these reviewers and critics unanimously ignore, however, is that the characters telling the jokes in Moore’s stories, the characters most uncomfortable with their own identity, are women. More specifically, they are women artists and academics who feel marginalized within patriarchal environments, who are painfully aware of their own femininity as a kind of vexed performance. In this paper I argue for a feminist reading of Moore’s work, particularly through Judith Butler’s theory of gender parody and Sally Robison’s reading of the female grotesque as a method of subversion.