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Towards a feminist theory of drama

Cousins, Jane M (1987) Towards a feminist theory of drama. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The thesis attempts to theorize the conditions of a feminist practice (or practices) of drama through a series of readings of plays, framed by a theoretical introduction and conclusion. In the form of a feminist critique of current theories of subjectivity and signification - notably those of psychoanalysis, semiotics, marxist literary theory, and discourse analysis - the introduction sets the theoretical scene for an exploration of the possibility of producing meaning for feminism, in the practices of reading and writing drama. It examines the conceptual tools provided, in particular, by psychoanalysis and semiotics, and appropriates and transforms them for feminist use in the following chapters. Through readings of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, 19th century British melodrama, three plays by Ibsen, some Australian plays from the 1950's and 70's, and finally a play by the contemporary French feminist director Simone Benmussa, these five chapters suggest how a feminist politics of the unconscious might usefully connect with a feminist politics of representation, developed through a formal and historical understanding of textuality. The plays themselves have not been selected on the basis of any single criterion but rather for the range of literary-historical and theoretical questions they provoke. Each chapter attempts, in different ways, to read the plays by informing its focus on specific contexts of production and reception with questions both of genre (of the formal, discursive conditions underlying the constitution of reading formations) and of gender and class. Finally, in an attempt to draw out the more general implications of these particular readings both for practice and theory, the thesis concludes by addressing certain questions of genre.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Human Communication
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Frow, John
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