One, Mad Hornpipe: Dance as a Tool of Subversion in Brian Friel's Molly Sweeney
The plot of Brian Friel's Molly Sweeney oscillates around the theme of perception, blindness and eye-sight recovery. Although visually impaired, the eponymous character is a self-reliant and independent person who is very active, both professionally and socially. What serves as the source of tragedy in the play is the male desire to compensate for Molly's physical disability perceived as a sign of deficiency and oddity that needs to be normalized. Prompted by her husband, Molly decides to undergo a surgery which gives her a chance to regain sight and, thus, become a part of the world of the visually abled. Yet, subsequent to the operation, Molly cannot adapt herself to the new reality and develops a medical condition called blindsight, which leads to her final alienation and confusion.
Focusing predominantly on the main character of the play, this paper examines the ways in which Molly Sweeney experiences the surrounding world and seeks satisfaction and self-fulfilment through physical activities, such as swimming or dancing, which she vividly describes in her monologues. It explores the double nature of Molly who, despite her self-sufficiency, capacity for rebellion and a sense of autonomy, seems prone to male manipulation exercised at first by her father, later by her husband Frank and doctor Rice. Her expression of independence becomes particularly conspicuous in the scene of a party organized the night before her surgery when she performs a wild and frantic hornpipe, which serves as a form of momentary upheaval and a visualization of the outburst of extreme emotions. Although the dance is not presented onstage, it has a crucial function in the play, for it serves as its powerful climax, after which Molly experiences gradual deterioration.
Interpreted in the context of the history of Irish dance, the mad hornpipe appears replete with meanings and allusions. Traditionally associated with human sexuality and the female element, dance was often treated by the Irish clergy with a great deal of distrust as a source of evil and moral corruption. Consequently, like in the case of the frenzied reel in another famous Frielian play, Dancing at Lughnasa, the limitless and unrestricted performance in the climactic scene of Molly Sweeney may be seen as a tool of subversion and female opposition to the Irish patriarchal order. It is a unique moment in which the protagonist seizes male power and gains full, though very temporary, control over her life.
This paper reads The Monk by M. G. Lewis in the context of the literary and visual responses to the French Revolution, suggesting that its digestion of the horrors across the Channel is exhibited especially in its depictions of women. Lewis plays with public and domestic representations of femininity, steeped in social expectation and a rich cultural and religious imaginary. The novel’s ambivalence in the representation of femininity draws on the one hand on Catholic symbolism, especially its depictions of the Madonna and the virgin saints, and on the other, on the way the revolutionaries used the body of the queen, Marie Antoinette, to portray the corruption of the royal family. The Monk fictionalizes the ways in which the female body was exposed, both by the Church and by the Revolution, and appropriated to become a highly politicized entity, a tool in ideological argumentation.
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One of the key questions facing Gothic Studies today is that of its migration into and out of its once familiar generic or symbolic modes of representation. The BBC series In the Flesh addresses these concerns against the background of a neoliberal medical culture in which pharmaceutical treatments have become powerful tools of socio-economic normalization, either through inducing passivity or in heightening productivity, generating chemically adapted biomachines tuned to think and produce. But the pharmakon has always been a risky form of normalization, its poisonous mechanisms threatening to undo its helpful patterns by stealth. This essay discusses the pharmacological and medical contexts of the series in which zombies are subjected to medical management and normalized as “PDS sufferers,” thereby locating In the Flesh in terms of an already gothicized neoliberal pharmacology of everyday life. It also enquires how the proximity of the symbolic pharmacology of the series to neoliberal medical discourses and practices actually challenges traditional representational patterns of the Gothic and whether the Gothic can still have a role as an alternative cure to society’s ills.
The article will attempt a reading of Alan Spence’s play No Nothing (2015). Special attention will be given to the issue of literal and metaphorical space(s), a peculiar, liminal setting of the play, and the ways it determines the flyting between the two characters, two iconic Glaswegians: Edwin Morgan and Jimmy Reid. It seems that in this theatrical space history, politics and poetry inter-are. We may notice how two completely different masters of speech (a poet and a trade union leader) exchange their views on life, how they reflect upon the meaning of their achievements, and how they find a space of convergence in their affirmation of life. As their flyting is “about life, the Universe and everything—from Glasgow to Infinity and beyond,” the article will also address the space of dialogue between Spence’s and Morgan’s poetry. The metaphor of Indra’s net will serve as a useful tool in exploring spatial dimensions of the play and the issue of interconnectedness.
The aim of this article is to revisit the work of the French philosopher Julia Kristeva and ask what place we might give her conceptual framework today. I will focus on one key aspect of Kristeva’s work, sexual difference, as that which ties most, if not all, aspects of Kristeva’s work. I am hoping to present a concise, yet wide-ranging view on Kristeva’s critical contribution to the fields of politics and ethics. My objective will be threefold. First, I will present the main lines of Kristeva’s theory on sexual difference; this presentation will also outline her political critique of equality and diversity in the domains of gender and sexuality. Kristeva believes that contemporary politics invested in suppressing inequality through the promotion of diversity will in the long term not only prove unsuccessful, but also create more exclusion. Secondly, I will point out the main objections raised against her theories and show how her critics come to their conclusions. Objectors to Kristeva’s sexual difference theory are mostly concerned with the manner in which she associates marginality and unintelligibility. They see little value in her theory, because, on the one hand, it relegates marginal groups to a world beyond social viability, and, on the other, because it effectively disables advancements in equality politics. Finally, I hope to provide the reader with a useful counter-critique to Kristeva’s detractors that will show why their views are partly founded on a misreading of her ethical (Freudian) framework and a desire to translate her work into a more pragmatic and user-friendly tool. I will argue that Kristeva’s work is best apprehended as a variant of psychoanalytic ethics and that to engage with its rhetoric is to capture the full weight of Kristeva’s contribution to politics and intellectual engagement.
Feminist Auto/biography as a Means of Empowering Women: A Case Study of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Janet Frame's Faces in the Water
Feminism, as a political, social and cultural movement, pays much attention to the importance of text. Text is the carrier of important thoughts, truths, ideas. It becomes a means of empowering women, a support in their fight for free expression, equality, intellectual emancipation. By "text" one should understand not only official documents, manifestos or articles. The term also refers to a wide range of literary products—poetry, novels, diaries. The language of literature enables female authors to omit obstacles and constraints imposed by the phallogocentric world, a world dominated by masculine propaganda. Through writing, female authors have an opportunity to liberate their creative potential and regain the territory for unlimited expression. In order to produce a truly powerful text, they resort to a variety of writing styles and techniques. Here the notions of a situated knowledge and context sensitivity prove useful. There are three methodologies working within situated knowledge, namely, the politics of location, self-reflexivity and feminist auto/biography. All of them regard text as a fundamental tool to signify one's authority, yet feminist auto/biography, a concept widely discussed by the British theorist Liz Stanley, appears to be the most empowering mode of writing. It challenges the overused genre of auto/biography and reconstructs its role within feminist epistemologies, thus creating a favourable environment for text production. The works by Sylvia Plath and Janet Frame can be analyzed from the point of view of auto/biographical empowerment, even though their auto/biographical potential is mainly instinctive. Nevertheless, they help to comprehend the strength of the auto/biographical.
The aim of this article is to "investigate" two novels by these authors, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame, and their compatibility with Stanley's concept. The paper attempts to answer several questions. Are these novels actual feminist auto/biographies or rather fictional auto/biographies with feminist undertones? What kind of narrative strategy is used to achieve the effect of authority over the text? Last but not least, what is the function of auto/biographical narration in the case of these two novels? The article also explores the idea of writing as a means of regaining control over one's life (with references to the authors' biographies and parallels between their lives and lives of their fictive alter egos).
The theory of functional sentence perspective (FSP) and its research methods have been considered one of the prominent tools of discourse analysis and information processing. It is widely known that, combining the approaches adopted both by formalists and functionalists, the theory of FSP draws on the findings presented by the scholars of the Prague Circle. The father of FSP himself - Jan Firbas - drew on the findings of his predecessor, Vilem Mathesius, who formulated the basic principles of what was to be labelled FSP only later. Apart from the principal FSP representatives and more recent followers (as a rule associated with Prague or Brno universities), this homage paper overviews somewhat less familiar - yet significant - pioneers in the field of theories of information structure, viz. Henri Weil, Samuel Brassai, Georg von der Gabelentz and Anton Marty. It will discuss some of their writings and achievements that were forming (and inspiring) the theory of FSP.
Are humour and laughter gender-specific? The simple answer, like most everything that is ideological, is “yes”. Many feminists in recent years have grappled with the question of humour and how it is often the site of much contestation when it comes to women using it as a tool of transgression. This paper probes the seemingly timeless antipathy between humour and representations of femininity through recourse to performance and theories of the body. This article holds the term “woman” up to scrutiny while simultaneously examining the persistence of both critical and philosophical recalcitrance and the way humour continues to function in both gendered and violent ways. How does gender “do” or “undo” humour? Laughter is no simple matter for women, due to the legacy of profoundly polarized and hyper-sexualized historical ambivalence between femininity and laughter. Acknowledging the problematic nature of the category “woman”, and after clearing some terminological distinctions (comedy, humour, irony, satire, and parody), this article investigates humour’s complicated and volatile relationship to gender and the way the laughing body of women on stage presents a fascinating double helix of sexual aggression and power