By Wendy Arons
In functionality and Femininity, Arons examines a sequence of texts by means of eighteenth-century German ladies in an effort to remove darkness from how girls writers of the time used theater and function either to enquire girl subjectivity and to interfere within the dominant cultural discourse of femininity. Arons's research makes a speciality of works that includes heroines who, for the main part--like their authors--lead lives with public dimensions, essentially by means of operating as actresses. The texts she chooses all name cognizance to the problems that the eighteenth-century belief of the self as honest and antitheatrical awarded for women. via highlighting the truth that the social viewers that determines a woman's attractiveness is nearly continually a fickle and untrustworthy "reader" of lady subjectivity, those works disclose the untenable place into which the discourse of sincerity positioned girls, mockingly requiring them to accomplish the very naivet? that was once, through definition, now not alleged to be performable. Arons's unique argument takes an interdisciplinary process, drawing from the fields of literary feedback, cultural stories, theatre historical past, and function stories, and divulges how those girls writers uncovered perfect femininity as an most unlikely act, while they tried to breed that act of their writing and of their lives.
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Extra info for Performance and Femininity in Eighteenth-Century German Women's Writing: The Impossible Act (Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History)
Paradoxically, then, at the same time that Rousseau asserts the naturalness of woman’s modesty and naiveté and fixes her as quintessentially antitheatrical, he also associates the world of appearances with a debasing and dangerous femininity and posits theatricality— gendered female—as a threat to man’s virility, identity, and social stability. 16 Hence antitheatricality became an important constitutive element in the formation of gendered identity through its establishment of yet another set of opposites (theatrical ϭ feminine/ antitheatrical ϭ masculine) to shore up the bipolar gender system.
While some actors were granted social legitimacy—for example, Ackermann successfully negotiated his way to becoming a citizen of Hamburg when he moved there in 1764—most continued to inhabit the margins of bourgeois society. This was particularly true for actresses, for whom establishing and maintaining a good reputation was made doubly difficult by the continued stereotypical association of the actress with prostitution. Evidence of the prejudices and social outcasting actresses faced crops up in many of the works I investigate in this study, as do reflections on the kinds of reforms necessary for cleansing the theater, and commentaries on what makes both “good” and “bad” managers and companies.
Is there a sight in the world so touching, so respectable, as that of a mother surrounded by her children, directing the work of her domestics, procuring a happy life for her husband and prudently governing the home? It is here that she shows herself in all the dignity of a decent woman; it is here that she really commands respect, and beauty shares with honor the homages rendered to virtue. (Letter 87–88, emphasis added) The tautological definition that results here—pudeur is a natural quality that makes the domestic the woman’s natural sphere; and because the domestic is the woman’s natural sphere, she ought to cultivate pudeur—serves to naturalize the relationship between gender and social role and equate woman’s “being” with the mutually determining qualities of her modesty/naiveté and her domesticity.
Performance and Femininity in Eighteenth-Century German Women's Writing: The Impossible Act (Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History) by Wendy Arons