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   Course Title    Daughters, wives, lovers: Women in Drama of 20th century
Lecturer    Malgorzata Sugiera
Institution    Jagiellonian University Cracow
Country    Poland

  1. Aim of the course

    Gender studies are still in their infancy in Poland, especially in the field of drama and theatre studies which are taught mostly as aesthetic domains having little impact on social life, despite the fact that the drama of the turn of 19th century, written mostly by men, played a great role in shaping the new gendered roles of men and women of that time. Nothing different could be said about the function of the most part of the contemporary drama, which is, in its turn, was involved very much in the destruction and deconstruction of gender roles and gender identities fixed hundred years ago.

    The main aim of the course is therefor to throw new light on the relations between drama and society both at the end of the 19th and in the second part of the 20th century in order to dispel the myth of the "innocence" of the drama. Students will be shown different ways in which drama and theatre served, and are still serving, as means of maintaining the status quo on the one hand and as a laboratory for the exploration of gendered modes of consciousness on the other.

  2. Role of the course in the overall degree curriculum

    The course should not only fill a visible gap in the curriculum of the Theatre Studies of the Jagiellonian University by taking into account plays and speaking about topics which remain mostly forgotten until now. Its objective is also to show students how usefully the new methodology can be applied to the classical theatre repertoire of the 20th century such as Ibsen, Strindberg, or Wedekind. That is why the course, mandatory for the students of 4th year, is recommended to all students of the Drama Department.

  3. Methods used

    The course consists of both teaching lectures because many of theoretical texts and some of the plays have not yet been translated into Polish and of extensive readings in the form of discussions of selected works by European playwrights from the period of the turn of the 19th century and from the second half of the 20th century. It will be divided into 6 parts dealing with different aspects of the main topic. In each case the amount of the hours devoted to the subject and the list of mandatory readings (both plays and theoretical texts) will be given.

  4. Course content

    1. Introduction (8 hours)

      1. Socio-economic and political issues had strongly influenced changes in the ways women are depicted in the plays of the end of the 19th, written mostly by men, and in the plays by women in the last 30 years of the 20th century (4 hours)

        Texts: "Introduction: Woman's Place at the Turn of the Century: Emancipation or Hysterization?" In: Gail Finney. Women in Modern Drama. Freud, Feminism, and European Theater at the Turn of the Century. Cornell University Press1989, pp. 1-22; "Femininity and feminism". In: David Glover and Cora Kaplan. Genders. Routledge 2000, pp. 1-55.

      2. Sex and genders: history of the topic and today's discussion between Judith Butler and Monique Wittig (4 hours)

        Texts: "Introduction: Gendered histories, gendered contexts". In: David Glover and Cora Kaplan. Genders. Routledge 2000, pp. IX-XXXIV.

    2. Woman as the Other (14 hours)

      1. 'Natural' sexuality and 'natural' hostility between sexes served as a basis for redefining woman, first of all in Freud's psychoanalysis, as the Other. (8 hours)

        Plays: August Strindberg, The Father (1887); Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Ödipus und die Sphinx (1905); Elfriede Jelinek, Krankheit oder Moderne Frauen (1987).
        Texts: Sigmunt Freud. Die Traumdeutung (1900). In: Gesammelte Werke, BD. II/III, London 1940-52, chapter V; "Im Zeichen der Sphinx. Psychoanalytischer und literarischer Diskurs über Weiblichkeit um 1900". In: Inge Stephan. Musen & Medusen. Mythos und Geschlecht in der Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Böhlau 1997, pp. 14-36.

      2. Different ways of subversive reading of the patriarchal binary model of the world, mapped on the dichotomy between men and women: culture / nature, rationality / emotionality, symbol / material, public / private, etc., to which feminists readings of Freud gave the beginning. (6 hours)

        Plays: Teresa Lubkiewicz-Urbanowicz, Wieczór z Lonka (1970); Hélène Cixous, Le Nom d'Oedipe (1978).

    3. Patriarchal model of family and „new women" (10 hours)

      The first feminist movement found it's best exemplification on the theatre stage in the famous image of Ibsen's Nora leaving her husband and children. Such playwrights of the period as, for example, G.B. Shaw were among those who were thinking about an independent woman of the future. Socio-economic changes of the second half of the 20th century made writing women verify those inherited ideas of women's emancipation.

      Plays: Henrik Ibsen, Nora (1879); George Bernard Shaw, Candida (1897); Elfriede Jelinek, Was geschah, nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte... (1977), Caryl Churchill, Top girls (1982). Texts: "The poetry of feminism". In: Joan Templeton. Ibsen's women. Cambridge University Press 1997, pp. 110-145.

    4. Tragedy of internalised norms of patriarchal society (12 hours)

      Playwrights of the turn-of-the-century and those of the second half of the 20th century demonstrate disastrous effects for women of both internalisation and transgression of patriarchal norms because in the patriarchal society all social roles and behaviours, even those typical for women, are defined and constructed by men.

      1. Woman and a male model of desire, sex and heterosexual relations (8 hours)

        Plays: Oscar Wilde, Salome (1893); Tadeusz Rózewicz, Biale malzenstwo (1973), Heiner Müller, Quartet (1980).
      2. Oppressed woman in a world of patriarchal values (4 hours)

        Plays: Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler (1890); Elfriede Jelinek, Clara S. (1982).
        Texts: "The Rhetoric of Circumlocution". In: Charles R. Lyons. Hedda Gabler. Gender, Role, and World. Twayne Publishers 1991, pp.119-135.
      3. Hysterical body as a theatre of repressed revolt (8 hours)

        At the turn-of-the-century, hysteria was scientifically assumed by Charcot (iconography) and Freud (scientific description and therapy) to be the typical malady for women. Modern playwrights try to deconstruct and to subvert the inherited image of a woman as hysteric.

        Plays: Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Elektra (1903); Hélène Cixous, Portrait de Dora (1976); Katarina Frostenson, Sal P (1996).
        Texts: "Feminism and Hysteria: The Daughter's Disease". In: Elaine Showalter. The Female Malady. Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980. Virago Press 1987, pp. 145-164.

      4. From 'naturally given' sex till cyborgs (8 hours)

        Late 19th century thought woman to be similar to nature and similarly in need of men's control. She was shown as dangerous to the society or as the last chance of the humanity. At the end of the 20th century the 'natural' woman (on the border between animal and man) changed into 'artificial' woman, cyborg (on the border between man and machine) as the only chance to define woman's identity independently from the restriction of the patriarchal society.

        Plays: Frank Wedekind, Erdgeist (1895) and Pandoras Buchse (1904); Arthur Schnitzler, Reigen (1900); Witold Gombrowicz, Iwona ksiezniczka Burgunda (1938); Werner Schwab, Reizende Reigen (1995).
        Texts: Anne Balsamo. "Reading Cyborgs. Writing Feminism". In: Cybersexualities. A Reader on Feminist Theory. Ed. by Jenny Wolmark, Edinburgh University Press 1999, pp. 145-156.

      5. Recommended readings

        Gail Finney. Women in Modern Drama. Freud, Feminism, and European Theater at the Turn of the Century. Cornell University Press1989.
        David Glover and Cora Kaplan. Genders. Routledge 2000. Judith Butler. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge 1990.

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