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Ecofeminist Dramaturgy and the Shakespeare of Today

Miriam F. Kammer. "Ecofeminist Dramaturgy and the Shakespeare of Today." Diss. U of Washington, 2011.

Ecofeminism is a developing field of inquiry which struggles with the historical interweaving of woman and nature as both rhetorical constructions and physical realities. Many theorists maintain that if the oppression of woman is rooted in her nearness to, or embodiment of, nature, then it is most logical for women to separate themselves from nature altogether. I argue, however, that a rejection of the natural world in the name of liberation may only reinforce predominant, destructive ideologies that feminists seek to expose and undo, such as the polar splitting of culture from nature and mind from body. In these schema, nature is often identified with womanhood and regarded as passive and exploitable, while culture has been associated with masculinity, reason and agency. To correct these paradigms, ecofeminism must first advance a material, non-metaphorical understanding of nature as an affective, dynamic, independent agent with the ability to signify, rather than as inert, static matter.
This dissertation is a dramaturgical study that proposes social-material ecofeminist interpretations of Shakespearean plays that may perform, critique, and possibly intervene in our current socio-environmental crisis. Given the singular nature of live performance, this study employs a model of critique that speaks to textual qualities of dramatic literature and the multi-dimensionality of the stage. Guiding questions for the following case studies have therefore included: how might the director, dramaturg, actors, and/or designers approach Shakespeare's gendering of nature in language and imagery? How can the production team's choices shape--or erase--the material and ideological implications of Shakespeare's invocation of nature and womanhood in all their discursive and non-discursive forms? How do these invocations and implications of the natural world relate to the presentations of the actress's body? Each chapter includes examples of film and stage productions of the plays in order to illustrate how interpreters of Shakespeare have--and have not--addressed ecofeminist concerns in our post-World War II era and suggest avenues for ecofeminist-minded renditions of these plays for the future. Works addressed include Titus Andronicus , Love's Labor's Lost , Cymbeline , The Tempest , King Lear , Pericles and The Winter's Tale.

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