Shelf Life & Critical Commentary

Franchini, Livia. 2021. Shelf Life & Critical Commentary. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis consists of two parts: my novel, Shelf Life, and a critical commentary, ‘Sexual, Textual Politics & the Writing of Shelf Life’.

Shelf Life tells the story of Ruth Beadle, a thirty-year-old geriatric nurse who finds herself alone for the first time in ten years after her long-term partner abruptly leaves her. Ruth, whose adult life hinged on the relationship, suddenly has to find a way to rebuild herself from the ground up, renegotiating the boundaries of her identity and relationships.

Though the main strand of the narrative is told from Ruth’s perspective, it is punctuated by chapters narrated by the intersecting voices of the characters that she interacts with. These voices encompass a variety of different contemporary languages, such as e-mails, chat-log transcripts, diary entries and text messages. Through its refusal to settle on a clear causality, a unique subjectivity or a linear plot, Shelf Life offers a purposefully unstable reading experience, aimed at stimulating a meta-reflection into the narrative conventions that articulate female representation in postfeminist mainstream fiction and society.

My critical commentary details the process of writing Shelf Life in the context of its production, touching upon the political motivations that informed my creative choices. It identifies my critical background in feminist literary studies on women’s experimental writing, formulating an affiliation between my own creative practice and that of three authors – Virginia Woolf, Anna Kavan and Lydia Davis – whose work directly influenced mine. In Chapters One to Three, I investigate the intersection between textual and sexual politics in Jacob’s Room, Who Are You? and The End of the Story, as individual case studies, before turning to an analysis of my own novel and the creative process of its composition. In my final chapter, I examine Shelf Life as a feminist rewriting of the contemporary genre of chick lit, tracing continuities between the narrative strategies used in my novel and the work of the authors who inspired it.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


feminism; textual politics; experimental fiction; chick lit; Virginia Woolf; Jacob's Room; Anna Kavan; who are you; let me alone; Lydia Davis; the end of the story; Livia Franchini; Shelf Life

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 April 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2021 14:00

Last Modified:

30 Apr 2024 01:26


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