A Study of feminist possibilities of escape from the panopticon and the male gaze in Pat Barker’s Union street and Angela Carter’s Nights at the circus

Atar, Merve
The aim of this thesis is to study Pat Barker’s Union Street (1982) and Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus (1984) to explore the novels’ treatment of how modern institutions discipline women in the light of Foucault’s conceptualization of the “Panopticon” in his Discipline and Punish (1977). This study will also be attentive to the works of feminist scholars such as Sandra Lee Bartky and Susan Bordo, who in their articles “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power” (1988) and “The Body and The Reproduction of Femininity” (1993) respectively argue that Foucault’s notion of the Panopticon fails to encompass the subjugation of women in particular. This thesis will argue that both Union Street and Nights at the Circus foreground the ways how women’s bodies are rendered more “docile” than those of men. Furthermore, in the light of Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) and her notion of “to-belooked- at-ness,” it will be argued that both novels explore the ways in which women are exposed to “the panoptical male gaze” and “the female connoisseur.” This thesis will also explore to what extent the women characters in these novels can actually escape from the Panopticon and the male gaze.