1st Edition

Women and Water in Global Fiction

Edited By Emma Staniland Copyright 2023
    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    Symbols and tropes of liquidity have long been connected to notions of the feminine and, therefore, with orthodox constructions of femininity and womanhood. Underpinning these ideas is the vital importance of water as life force, which has given it a central place in cultural vocabularies worldwide. These symbolic economies, in turn, inform the discourses through which positive or negative associations of women with water come to bear impact on the social positioning of female gendered identities.

    Women and Water in Global Fiction brings together an array of studies of this phenomenon as seen in writing by and about women from around the world. The literature explored in this volume works to make visible, decodify, celebrate, and challenge the cultural associations made between female gendered identities and all kinds of watery tropes, as well as their consequences for key issues connected to women, society, and the environment. The collection investigates the roots of such symbolisms, examines how they inform women’s place in the socio-cultural orders of diverse global cultures, and shows how the female authors in question use these tropes in their work as ways of (re)articulating female identities and their correlative roles. 

    Introduction: Women and Water – Mapping a fluid terrain

    Emma Staniland

    Part One. Mythologies and Spiritualities of Water

    The Atlantis Effect: Aquatic invocations and the (re)claiming of women’s space in the works and archives of Gloria Anzaldúa, tatiana de la tierra, and Lydia Cabrera

    Sarah E. Piña

    Connecting Women through Water: Nalo Hopkinson’s The Salt Roads (2003) as matrifocal speculative fiction

    Leighan Renaud

    Grottoes and Mermaids: fairy tales and transformations in Marie Nimier’s Sirène (1985) and La Plage (2016)

    Rebecca Rosenberg

    "Water, Water, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink": spiritual renewal through destruction in Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Hurricane (2011)

    Angela Watkins

    Part Two. Rivers, Lakes and Oceans

    Of Deserts and Oceans: spaces of womanhood in the work of Malika Mokkedem

    Elizabeth H. Jones

    Re-writing the Colonial River: Fabienne Bayet-Charlton’s Watershed (2005) and Murray River narratives

    Brigid Magner and Emily Potter

    Ko wai koe? identity and water in contemporary women’s writing from Aotearoa New Zealand

    Paula Morris

    Time and Tide: topographies of trauma in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland (2013)

    Kamil Naicker

    Watery Subjectivities: exploring female Somali diasporic experiences of the sea in Cristina Ali Farah’s Little Mother (2011) and "A Dhow is Crossing the Sea" (2011)

    Ayan Salaad

    Part Three. Metaphors of Liquidity

    Flowing along Endlessly: Banana Yoshimoto’s female protagonists and water as guiding force

    Carrie Giunta

    Women, Water and the House Built on Sand: tropes of liquidity in the feminist Latin American dictatorship novel – Cristina Peri Rossi’s The Ship of Fools (1984) and Diamela Eltit’s The Fourth World (1988)

    Emma Staniland

    Water metaphors as communication structures in Astrid H. Roemer’s Was getekend (Was Marked) (1998)

    Emma Van Meyeren


    Emma Staniland is a Teaching Fellow in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester, UK, where she also completed her PhD. Her research interests focus on experiences of female selfhood as portrayed in Latin American women’s writing, the connections between gender and genre (with a particular interest in global rearticulations of the Bildungsroman and in memoir writing), and US and UK Latinx literature and culture.