Kate Irwin

Kate Irwin
Her Body Politic: Genre, Gender, and Nation in the Novels of Margaret Atwood
2016
Kate Irwin
UC Berkeley
Rita Ross Undergraduate Prize In Canadian Studies

Kate Irwin received her Bachelor of Arts in Honors English literature and film studies from the University of California, Berkeley in the spring of 2016. She is an avid fiction reader and writer of novels, screenplays, and short stories. Her writing has been published in the Daily Californian, the Berkeley Fiction Review, Humble Pie Magazine and the UC Berkeley journal Words of the Watershed. In 2015, Kate received the Best Writer Award at the UC Berkeley Student Media Awards and has earned numerous merit-based grants in support of her academic and creative endeavors.

 

Kate’s Honors thesis “Her Body Politic: Genre, Gender, and Nation in the Novels of Margaret Atwood” examines the intersections and metaphorical relations between human and national bodies from a Canadian perspective. In her thesis, she links the recurring female Gothic theme in Canadian Atwood’s early novels to Atwood’s later science fiction dystopias, arguing that Atwood’s shift from the Gothic to science fiction mirrors the historical evolution of Gothic literature as a whole. To further complicate this synthesis of Atwood’s oeuvre, Kate argues that Atwood’s novels take a necessarily gendered approach to negotiating national identity. Through the use of figurative language, Atwood codes the “Canadian” as fluid and female and juxtaposes it with the rigid, masculine “American.” Her novels reveal unresolved anxieties surrounding Canadian identity through Gothicized depictions of Canadian life and, in her more recent works, through an imagined total absence and erasure of Canadian existence.