Resisting roles: Women, violence and dramaturgy in British theatre during the nineties

MacLeod, Jenny Elizabeth (2004) Resisting roles: Women, violence and dramaturgy in British theatre during the nineties. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Within a patriarchal framework women are neither expected nor allowed to be violent. The assumed codes of acceptable gender behaviour locate violence as a legitimate expression of masculinity. Thus, when a woman transgresses expected gender roles her actions are regarded as a sign of her inherent madness, sexual deviancy or even an indication that she is not a woman. The increased representation of violent behaviour by women in Britain during the Nineties and the social phenomenon of girl gangs emphasised these stereotypes and the scripts attached to them, particularly within popular culture. This thesis critically analyses the stereotypes of women who transgress gender roles and the structures that produce them through an in-depth examination of selected play texts which emerged within this context, hi doing so the thesis contributes to the relatively unexplored area of dramaturgical representations in Britain during the Nineties of women who engage in violent behaviour. Chapter One examines the context of late Twentieth-Century Britain, identifying key socio economic and cultural characteristics, which may have impacted upon female identity and the representation of female acts of violence, including the notion of a feminist backlash. Chapter Two focuses on the portrayal of girl gangs, and considers the plays' treatment of causes of female violence in relation to the essentialist theories of Nineteenth-Century male criminologists and contemporary media representations. The body and issues of control and transformation are the subject of Chapter Three, which draws upon methods from phenomenology to identify female acts of violence as a product of both predetermined and cultural forces. Chapter Four considers the construction of stereotypes in relation to narrative structures and identifies a correlation between an alternative, fragmentary approach to narrative structure and non-restrictive representations. Central to the thesis are gender stereotypes of women as role breakers within a patriarchal structure and how the play texts problematise these representations through postmodernist, resistant aesthetic strategies. The thesis concludes, that by adopting postmodernist resistant aesthetic strategies, the play texts offer a progressive position of critical inquiry inspiring a more pluralistic understanding of women who engage in violent behaviour and their stories.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Theater history, English literature.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Giesekam, Prof. Greg and Mumford, Dr. Meg
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-71916
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 13:47

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