Dr. Julia Rösler

Thesis - content and brief overview of key issues

In my thesis I offer an in-depth analysis of plays by Caryl Churchill, Sarah Daniels and Timberlake Wertenbaker. They have been selected since they share a deep critique of the discourses through which Western thought has claimed to discern reality and subject positions. However, the three playwrights offer very distinctive approaches to the question of gender politics. I would like to show ho their plays engage in systems of representation and signification, setting in motion a process of undermining the decisive logic of identity and opening up alternative possibilities in the field of sexual difference.

The study establishes a critical dialogue between theory and contemporary women’s drama with the main objective of evaluating the transgressive potential of performance. Performance is understood as a process in the constitution of subject positions. The analysis shows how plays by women develop concepts of identity that transcend and confuse the boundary between self and other, unsettling the very notion of gender as a product of these demarcations.

The means by which Churchill, Daniels and Wertenbaker explore performance as a tool of resistance disclose different points of emphasis and theatrical techniques. The play with language, the function of laughter as performative, the interaction between audience and stage, as well as the dramatization of semiotic forces which unsettle the fixity of the logos are key aspects of this study.

Investigating the processes through which plays by women negotiate between deconstruction and transformative politics, the aim of this study is to reveal performance as a politically empowering strategy, a tactics that leads to ‘threatening theory’


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