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Title: Gothic theatricality and performance in the work of Adelaida Garcia Morales, Cristina Fernandez Cubas and Pilar Pedraza
Author: Holdom , Shoshannah Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2003
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According to critics, post-transition Spain has developed into a neo-baroque, postmodern 'society of the spectacle'. The emphasis on society as spectacle, and identity as performance is evident in the work of Adelaida Garcia Morales, Cristina Fernandez Cubas and Pilar Pedraza. Their writing foregrounds theatricality, performance and ritual, in that characters perform their identity in accordance with audience and setting, seeking to be seen and acting out their fears and desires within their own personal theatres of fantasy. Critics tend to view Spain's neo-baroque spectacle in terms of widespread pessimism, undercut by horror and violence produced when human existence is reduced to mere spectacle and when meaning beyond the superficial play of performances is destroyed. Although the Gothic, undoubtedly a salient feature of much of contemporary Spanish writing, particularly by women, may be understood as an apt mode for the articulation of such pessimism, for writers such as Garcia Morales, Fernandez Cubas and Pedraza, who interpret the Gothic as a neo-baroque, theatrical aesthetic, the Gothic affords a space wherein gendered identity may be reconfigured. Their reworking of Gothic tradition and themes, emphasising the uncanny, horror, abjection, and ambiguity reveals the macabre sense of absence of meaning informing the excessive spectacle. Yet by means of Gothic excess, these writers are able to free up discourse and allow for new configurations of identity. Common themes are present in the works of Garcia Morales, Fernandez Cubas and Pedraza: questions of spectatorship and spectacle, the significance of appearance rather than reality, and writing the self through narrative and theatricality. Most importantly, the void subsumed beneath the play of appearances is foregrounded as the absence and negativity deemed constitutive of identity by recent performance theories informed by post-structuralism and psychoanalysis. Two texts by each Spanish writer are studied in terms of how the excessively visible draws attention to that which is unrepresentable or 'unmarked', in order to challenge the socio-cultural marking of women's identity with imagistic value. That which defies representation is explored in these texts in terms of the abject, the monstrous and the grotesque, which are nonetheless aestheticised to reinterpret notions of horror. Using gender as a category of analysis, this thesis employs diverse theoretical approaches (acknowledging postmodern self-referentiality, pluralism and language games, film theories of the gaze, gender as performance and masquerade, abjection) to examine the neo-baroque Gothic aesthetic created by women writers in the context of postmodern Spain and to analyse how issues of theatricality, performance, spectacle and horror are instrumental to new, empowering conceptualisations of women's identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available