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Title: The construction of the category of 'woman' in Shakespeare's King Lear and Othello and Webster's The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil
Author: Callaghan, D. C.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1986
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This thesis addresses fissures in language, ideology and subjectivity as they are manifested in the dramatic construction of the category of 'Woman' in four major Jacobean texts. The first section of my project deals with the way 1n which the opposition of male and female underlies the perception and construction of order at every level. In a scheme of thought characterized by the use of antithesis and analogy, the opposition of gender proves to be one of the most richly extensible. All analogies are connected by the great chain of thought which consti tutes the Great Chain of Being. Once any element 1n this scheme is undermined there is the danger (or for my purposes, the analytic advantage) that there will be something like a domino ef:ect. That is to say, relations of power become more visible at the problematic i~tersec~ion of gender. In section two, I propose a construction of tragedy rela~2d to female transgression as an alternative to the '.va'! in which feminist critics tend to equate gender with genre, dubbing comedy 'feminine' and tragedy 'masculine.' My construc~ion also counters the ~raditional notion of tragedy as a ~ixed, pr i vi leged genre category. I f',lrther examine the construc~ion of woman in tragedy through absence, silence and utterance. The final sect.ion explores the nature of the cont':'nuous process of gender di£ £erentiation which serves to produce and maintain gender categories. Gender differentiation occurs most manifestly in misogynistic discourse which I address using Lacan I s theory of the construction of the human subject. The production of misogyny in its various forms constructs the feminine as 'Other,' and 1n this its function can be seen as one of policing the boundaries 'of gender ideologies. Here I also treat the construction of masculinity against femininity since the production of the former is dependent upon the latter. The preceding analyses serve to break down unities of gender by recognizlng that discourse simultaneously constructs and disperses concepts of gender. Gender is thus crucial '=.0 the cuI tural dynamic of Renaissance drama, and in this we find authority for new direc~ions in feminis~ literary studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Woman in Jacobean literature