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Reading and Writing as Transformative Action in Maria Irene Fornes' and Adrienne Kennedy's Plays

Lee, Insoo (2012) Reading and Writing as Transformative Action in Maria Irene Fornes' and Adrienne Kennedy's Plays. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines Maria Irene Fornes’ and Adrienne Kennedy’s plays, focusing on the female characters’ act of reading and writing on stage. Usually, reading and writing on stage are considered to be passive and static, but in the two playwrights’ works, they are used as an effective plot device that moves the drama forward and as willful efforts by the female characters to develop their sense of identities. Furthermore, in contrast to the usual perception of reading and writing as intellectual processes, Fornes and Kennedy depict these acts as intensely physical and sensual. Julia Kristeva’s and Hélène Cixous’ poststructuralist psychoanalytic theories of language and female sexuality, and Gloria Anzaldúa’s theory of writing the body are the major theoretical framework within which I explore the two playwrights’ works. Since I treat the plays as meta-writing (writing about writing) I also use narrative theory to analyze the narrative structures of the plays, which the two dramatists use to reveal the nature of writing. I conclude that Fornes’ plays demonstrate that knowledge and the possibility to create oneself can only result from one’s earnest effort to merge language in one’s embodied experiences and vice versa. I also conclude that in Kennedy’s plays writing opens up a space in which the writer assumes many different identities simultaneously. In this space of writing, the writer uses her body as a medium through which she experiences the others’ identities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGeorge , Kathleengeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Committee MemberFavorini, Attiliobucfav@pitt.eduBUCFAV
Committee MemberBruce, McConachiebamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee MemberSusan, Andradesza@pitt.eduSZA
Date: 28 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 April 2012
Approval Date: 28 June 2012
Submission Date: 19 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 269
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maria Irene Fornes, Adrienne Kennedy, Language, Sexuality, Women and Writing
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 20:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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