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Title: Performing disability : theatre and politics of identity
Author: Conroy, Colette
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 0243
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2007
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The trajectory of my argument moves from thinking about disabled bodies as exceptional or unusual bodies in Chapter One to thinking about impaired bodies as exemplary bodies in Chapter Eight. Analysing disabled bodies on stage and disability and impairment in dramatic texts reveals methodological problems because the questions of what impairment can mean on stage are contested by an articulate political movement. The first chapter is an attempt to develop questions about the differences created by disability in the act of acting. I use structuralist semiotics to break down and analyse the reasons for the confusions in the actor/audience relationship. The conceptual gaps between actor and character are also discussed. Chapter Two asks how we can move from the apparent self-evidence of impairment to the question of comparative or relative identity. I suggest that disability is a representation of a set of complex and unstable ideas. The complexity of these accumulated ideas seems to move us closer to the sorts of complex articulations that are made in art works, including theatre. Ideas of disability as metaphor are the starting point for Chapter Three. This is the point where the argument engages in theories of mind/body relationships and, informed by feminisms' methods of discussing physical difference, I turn to psychoanalytic theory. Chapter Four follows multiple signposts throughout theoretical and theatre writing by going in search of references to disability in Freud. Chapters Five and Six connect the psychoanalytical innovations of Freud with the structuralist and post-structuralist methodologies of Chapter One. I bring Lacan's material on signification and Kristeva's on abjection to a discussion of disability and gender identity, and this suggests that the moment of reading disability is a moment of fixing identity within an interpretative frame. At this point I return to the analysis of theatre with the advantage of insights from a range of theorists. Chapter Seven offers a discussion of a de-freaking of disability, or an un-disabling of freaks. I offer a summary of the implications of the theoretical work developed so far, then in Chapter Eight I try out the innovations of this exercise by analysing five pieces of theatre, selected randomly, through the framework of disability, offering an example of the uses of the theoretical methodologies developed in the thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available