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The subversion of gender

Pamperl, Gabriele (2008) The subversion of gender.
Diplomarbeit, University of Vienna. Philologisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
BetreuerIn: Fellner, Astrid

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DOI: 10.25365/thesis.2416
URN: urn:nbn:at:at-ubw:1-29782.75137.817070-3

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Abstract in English

This thesis will demonstrate that New Woman literature caused a serious gender crisis by questioning long established gender norms and behaviours taken for granted and natural in the Victorian era. By deliberately reversing apparently fixed gender roles, New Women pointed at the constructedness and instability of the concept “gender”, which has become one of the most fundamental organizing ideologies around which our social life rotates. Drawing on Judith Butler’s perception of gender as a performative act, I will investigate in which ways gender is performed by New Women and why their gender performance encounters strong opposition and causes national anxieties. I will analyse the discrepancy between Victorian expectations and views of proper femininity and the way New Women understand and establish their female identities and enact their own comprehension of new womanhood. Moreover, I will explore how New Women use the power of fiction to criticize dominant patriarchal structures by questioning and subtly reversing patriarchal discourses to serve a feminist cause. My investigation into New Women’s potential to overcome traditional conceptions of gender roles will be based on theoretical ideas on sex, gender, power and sexuality put forward by the 20th century scholars Michael Foucault and Judith Butler, who have both significantly influenced the development of queer theory, a field of studies among whose main concerns is the destabilization of fixed identities. According to Foucault, power always produces and therefore encounters resistance, and in this sense New Woman literature can be seen as a warning sign of and an interference to a long era of suppression fostered by patriarchal structures and its ‘institutional arrangements of power’ (Gauntlett, 118). This thesis will rely on Foucault’s and Butler’s assumption of the constructedness and hence flexibility of gender identities in the analysis of New Women’s potential of gender subversion.

Schlagwörter in Englisch

new woman / fin de siècle / gender / patriarchy / hysteria / venereal disease / double standard / biological determinism / medical discourse / marriage / androgyny / cross-dressing

Abstract in German

Ausgehend von den theoretischen Grundannahmen von Judith Butler und Michel Foucault, die aufzeigen, dass Geschlechterrollen nicht naturgegeben, sondern in Wirklichkeit performativ und gesellschaftlich konstruiert sind, wird untersucht, inwiefern die ausgewählten „New Woman“ Romane und Kurzgeschichten dazu beitragen, das vorherrschende binäre Gesellschaftsmodell - das sowohl das weibliche als auch männliche Geschlecht ihrer Freiheit und Individualität beraubt - zu hinterfragen und zu zerrütten.

Schlagwörter in Deutsch

moderne Frau / Fin de siècle / Geschlecht / Patriarchat / Geschlechtskrankheiten / Hysterie / Ehe / sexuell Rebellion / Parodie, medizinische Diskurse, biologischer Determinismus / Androgynie

Item Type: Hochschulschrift (Diplomarbeit)
Author: Pamperl, Gabriele
Title: The subversion of gender
Subtitle: representations of new women in literature of the Fin de Siècle
Umfangsangabe: 128 S.
Institution: University of Vienna
Faculty: Philologisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Publication year: 2008
Language: eng ... Englisch
Supervisor: Fellner, Astrid
Assessor: Fellner, Astrid
Classification: 17 Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > 17.01 Geschichte der Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft
AC Number: AC07121358
Item ID: 2416
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