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Marya Hornbacher's Wasted as an American Punk Feminist Autobiography

Title: Marya Hornbacher's Wasted as an American Punk Feminist Autobiography.
Name(s): Du Vernay, Denise A., author
Faulk, Barry, professor directing thesis
Braendlin, Bonnie, committee member
Laughlin, Karen, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2002
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This thesis explores Marya Hornbacher's 1998 autobiographical work Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. As a complex and layered American autobiography, Wasted will be placed within three American traditions of autobiography, namely, the self as morality play, in which the writer deals with matters of good and evil, virtue and vice, next, the self-made man, which is related to the bildungsroman and ideas of "self culture," and finally, feminist confession, which does not seek an exoneration of sins but instead offers personal and societal truths. As a memoir of anorexia and bulimia, Wasted is discussed as a study of American girls and their bodies. Autobiography and the body are both means of communication, and are both treated as such in the third chapter. As a transgressive memoir, Wasted is discussed in Chapter 4 as part of a trend that alters and propels American feminism, not unlike the works of other feminist punk writers such as Kathy Acker and punk musicians such as Le Tigre and Slaeter-Kinney. The introduction addresses the neo-conservative movement, which includes Wendy Shalit's 1999 book: A Return To Modesty, in which she argues that embarrassment is required for a woman's safety; the loss of embarrassment, and subsequently modesty, is the cause of contemporary damages to women, such as eating disorders, promiscuity, drug use, and rape. She uses Wasted to propel her arguments, citing Hornbacher as a woman lacking in modesty and embarrassment, a condition which, according to Shalit, leaves her open to self-destructive behaviors and victimization by vii others. This argument is dangerous in its simplicity and in its desire to place blame. Shalit's function is enabled by our society's lust for public spectacle, such as daytime talk shows in which the stranger the guests and their issues, the higher the ratings of the show. This circuitry works together to reduce women such as Hornbacher to objects defined by their sex and gender, thus providing a shallow critique of surface sexuality. Instead, this thesis strives to analyze Wasted in its proper interpretive matrix; a more appropriate and useful analysis would be to examine how the book fits into established American forms of autobiography, how the book uses both the body and its genre to tell the story, and finally, to question how this memoir fits into and changes American feminism. Wasted is an American autobiography, it is a woman's autobiography (with all the potential negative and positive connotations that accompany that adjective) and it is a transgressive memoir, continuing through nonfiction a punk feminist agenda. The conclusion of this thesis examines the reasons why Wendy Shalit's interpretation of Wasted in A Return to Modesty is reductionistic and anti-feminist, and that her suggestion to rediscover the lost virtue of modesty simply works to place blame on the victim, which in this case blames Hornbacher for her anorexia. Instead, I maintain, this memoir needs to be analyzed as a complex American autobiography, transgressive in style and content, and as a text that works in conjunction with the current wave of American feminism.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-0655 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2002.
Date of Defense: Date of Defense: November 4, 2002.
Keywords: Marya Hornbacher, Wasted, Autobiography, American, Feminism
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Barry Faulk, Professor Directing Thesis; Bonnie Braendlin, Committee Member; Karen Laughlin, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Du Vernay, D. A. (2002). Marya Hornbacher's Wasted as an American Punk Feminist Autobiography. Retrieved from