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Title: Samuel Beckett's sonic femininities : the derivation and evolution of the disembodied female voice in the drama for radio, stage and television (1958-1976)
Author: Vashisht, Jivitesh
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 2127
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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Samuel Beckett's radical experiments with corporeality in his mid-to-late dramas bear directly on the unique challenges of thinking about the sensory articulation of gender in this phase of his work. Progressively inhabiting a register of loss, absence, and memory, the female body is increasingly obliterated from the visual fields of Beckett's stage and media plays while persisting therein as a dis-embodied voice or an unseen sound that is identifiably gendered. The vocal metamorphosis of the female body in Beckett's later drama anticipates and contributes to the ongoing critique of the ocularcentrism of certain influential strands of gender theory, where an overriding preoccupation with the visible body and/or the gaze often precludes a consideration of aural-and indeed other non-visual-modalities of the production of gender. And yet, while phenomenologically-orientated scholarship on the body and the senses has transformed our understanding of the varied auralities at work in Beckett's oeuvre, considerations such as gender have been largely overlooked within it. Drawing on the productive cross-fertilisation, since the 19990s, of gender and sound theory within psychoanalytically-inflected film, opera and literary studies, this thesis traces the emergence and evolution of Beckett's disembodied female voices across two decades of his late dramatic work and probes the politics of a non-specular model of sexual difference that is rooted in voice and sound. I ask: over and beyond the identities that their listeners (sometimes) attribute to them, what is female about these disembodied female voices? To what extent are Beckett's sonic femininities a function of female corporeality? And finally, how do these voices interact with a wider technological and cultural imaginary pertaining to female vocality that exceeds Beckett's drama? Premised on the claim that gender and sound have a mutually-constitutive relationship in Beckett's drama, this thesis ultimately argues that subjectivity and intertextuality emerge as profoundly implicated in aurality once we attend to the gender of the disembodied voice as well as the ear that is attuned to it. On the one hand, the perception of the disembodied female voice by Beckett's auditors revives those foundational scenarios, typically elaborated within various psychoanalytic paradigms, in which subjectivity is (de)formed; on the other hand-or rather, at the same time-the representation of this auditory perception entails Beckett's revisiting of his key literary and intellectual influences, here identified as Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu and Otto Rank's The Trauma of Birth, both of which engaged his readerly attention in the 1930s.
Supervisor: Ray, Nick ; Taylor-Batty, Mark Sponsor: University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available