Date

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Adviser

Foltz, Mary C.

Other advisers/committee members

Fifer, Elizabeth A.; Traister, Barbara; Pepper, Pam

Abstract

For the last fifty years feminist drama critics have had radical expectations for plays by and about women. Any commercial success a woman playwright has is immediately suspect and dismissed as pandering to hegemony. Using a postmodern theoretical viewpoint with feminist sensibilities and various sociological theories, I analyze plays from the last forty years as they examine specific aspects of a woman's life. Through studying how women playwrights dramatize women's roles and viewpoints on maturation, marriage, motherhood, and later life, there is proof of radical instances even if the entirety of the plays does not satisfy radical critics. Contemporary women playwrights continue to dramatize the facets of feminist sensibilities even if they overtly eschew the label of feminist. Rather than present idealized feminist roles for women, contemporary playwrights offer roles that present women who struggle with maintaining subjectivity as they attempt to fulfill their perceived quotidian roles. The image of a continuum of a woman's life, rather than a linear cause and effect, affords a plurality of experiences, allows for differences among women's understanding, and provides elements of satisfaction in seeing women's lives portrayed on stage.

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