The White Woman’s Haunted Body in Doris Lessing’s The Grass Is Singing

Enza Maria Ester Gendusa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Underpinned by an interpretative grid where the analytic categories of gender and race are interwoven, the paper contends that Doris Lessing’s first novel, The Grass Is Singing (1950), unveils and dismantles culturally-constructed inscriptions of the white female body as elaborated within the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British colonial discourses and largely reproduced at folk level.Exploring Lessing’s robust delineation of the entanglements of gendered sexuality and race-biased social constraints as active in the colonial context, the paper also suggests that the novel problematizes and recasts traditional British identity configurations from an authorial perspective which posits itself as internal to the nation. Moreover, in focusing on the contradictory nature of white colonial women’s social positioning, the novel questions the Identity/Otherness binary which buttressed the colonial paradigm and anticipates a number of theoretical issues that would come to prominence within Cultural, Gender and (Post-)colonial studies nearly three decades later.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegenerating Community, Territory, Voices. Memory and Vision
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series



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