Even in their dresses the females seem to bid us defiance : Boston women and performance 1762-1823


Even in their dresses the females seem to bid us defiance : Boston women and performance 1762-1823

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dc.contributor.advisor Canning, Charlotte, 1964-
dc.creator Kokai, Jennifer Anne
dc.date.accessioned 2012-02-17T20:05:23Z
dc.date.available 2012-02-17T20:05:23Z
dc.date.created 2008-12
dc.date.issued 2012-02-17
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2152/14843
dc.description.abstract This dissertation constructs a cultural history of women's performances in Boston from 1762-1823, using materialist feminism and ethnohistory. I look at how "woman" was historically understood at that time, and how women used those discourses to their advantage when constructing performances that allowed them to intervene in political culture. I examine a broad range of performance activities from white, black, and Native American women of all classes. Chapter two discusses three of Boston's elite female intellectuals: Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, and Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton. Though each woman's writings have been examined individually, I examine them as a community. With the connections and public recognition they built, they helped found the Federal Street Theatre where they could have a ventrioloquized embodied performance for their ideas on women's rights, abolition, and political parties. Chapter three looks at the construction of three solo performances: Phillis Wheatley performing her poetry in 1772; the 1802 theatre tour of Deborah Sampson Gannett, who fought as a man in the revolution; and the monologues and wax effigy creations of Patience Lovell Wright circa 1772. These women depended on their performances for sustenance, and in Wheatley's case, to secure her freedom from bondage. I look at the way these women created a mythology about themselves and crafted a marketable image, both on and off the stage. In particular, I examine the ways each grappled with a charged discourse surrounding their bodies. In chapter four I look at fashion as performance. I explore homespun dresses as political propaganda, Native American and black women's use of clothing to express cultural pride that white Anglo society had attempted to erase, and the way that women used mourning costumes to perform and create nationalism at the mock funerals held for Washington after he died in 1799. In my conclusion I contrast the 2008 miniseries John Adams with a solo performance of Phillis Wheatley. I briefly trace the trajectory of the history of women during this time. I argue that focusing on performance identifies and legitimizes other sources of evidence and locates examples of women's agency in shaping popular culture.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.language.iso eng
dc.rights Copyright © is held by the author. Presentation of this material on the Libraries' web site by University Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin was made possible under a limited license grant from the author who has retained all copyrights in the works.
dc.subject Women
dc.subject Boston, Massachusetts
dc.subject Performance
dc.subject 18th century
dc.subject 19th century
dc.subject Political culture
dc.subject Politics
dc.subject Intellectuals
dc.subject Mercy Otis Warren
dc.subject Judith Sargent Murray
dc.subject Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton
dc.subject Federal Street Theatre
dc.subject Phillis Wheatley
dc.subject Deborah Sampson Gannett
dc.subject Patience Lovell Wright
dc.subject Fashion
dc.subject Native American women
dc.subject Black women
dc.subject White women
dc.subject Feminism
dc.subject Ethnohistory
dc.subject Theatre performance
dc.subject Popular culture
dc.title Even in their dresses the females seem to bid us defiance : Boston women and performance 1762-1823
dc.description.department Theatre and Dance
dc.type.genre Thesis
dc.type.material text
thesis.degree.department Theatre and Dance
thesis.degree.discipline Theatre
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Texas at Austin
thesis.degree.level Doctoral
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy
dc.rights.restriction Restricted

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