Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Sub-Department

Spanish

First Advisor

Andrew C Rajca

Abstract

This study investigates the performance of gender in two plays by the Argentine writer, Griselda Gambaro, La malasangre (1981) and Antígona furiosa (1986). Of particular interest to this project is the playing or "performance" of gender roles in relation to socio-political and socio-economic factors. I examine the portrayal of notions of masculinity and femininity by both female and male characters in these works, and the ways that they either subvert or reaffirm traditional gender roles in relation to sociological, economic, and political power structures.

Although some of the characters from these plays maintain the traditional gender roles, others utilize these performances to subvert the very sociological, political, and economic institutions that impose them. Sociologically, the condition of woman crosses the borders of both time and space which cause these plays, written several decades ago and set centuries ago, to resonate with the contemporary reader. The patriarchal tradition continues today by hierarchically placing women/the feminine in a position inferior to that of men/the masculine. Politically, Gambaro writes within the Argentine context during or soon after the most recent military regime (1976-1983). Therefore, the concepts of nation, authority, and power become intertwined with ideas about gender. I explore how the portrayal of gender changes as Argentina attempts the transition from dictatorship to democracy in which nation, authority, and power are reconfigured. Economically, the works show the distinction of classes and portray the "femininized" characters (both men and women) as exchangeable goods or property more often than people or sovereign individuals.

Through a close reading of the primary texts and secondary texts of critical essays and theoretical discussions dealing with gender and performance by such theorists as Hélène Cixous and Judith Butler, I explore the concept of gender as a construction and the underlying reasons that govern its performance within these two plays. While previous approaches have primarily expounded on the playwright's allegorical commentary on the dictatorship and memory, I examine the activation and performance of gender roles for different purposes within these dramatic works by Gambaro.

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