Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Masculinity as Biopolitics in British Life Science and Theatre ca. 1880-1914
by Park, Jihay, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2018, 207; 10931762
Abstract (Summary)

In “Masculinity as Biopolitics in British Life Science and Theatre ca. 1880–1914”, I question what fashions and perpetuates the force of premium put on masculinity. Despite the efforts to denaturalize the relation between sex and gender, the rich enquiries on masculinity have resulted in reproducing the pecking order between sexes and genders, or, in reproducing a heteronormative value system where masculinity is everywhere but nowhere. Then, where does masculinity’s hegemonic status come from? How did masculinity become inherently associated with power?

I first provide an overview of masculinity studies in order to situate my question and unfold the context from which my interest in life science emerges. I highlight my intention of going beyond the patriarchal definition of men and considering the biological existence as well as the political existence of humans. I then provide an examination of Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitics which is the theoretical paradigm I adopt in exploring how the power of masculinity operates. I argue that the power of masculinity is constituted by the biopolitical discourse, and hence masculinity should be considered as biopolitics.

Next, I analyze the discourse of human evolution in British life science and the discourse of professionalism in Victorian society, by which, I argue, the power of masculinity operates. I first revisit the evolution theories developed in British life science. My examination of Thomas Robert Malthus, Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin’s ideas conclude that the idea of human evolution in British life science resulted in associating the ability to bring about higher evolution of the humans with masculinity. Then, I consider the professionalization of British theatre. I see the establishment of actors as professionals as the product of the Victorian specific link between the concept of manliness and the ideology of work.

Finally, I examine how a counter-discourse of masculinity as biopolitics developed in British life science and theatre. I analyze the idea of human evolution in New Drama by which the power of diverse genders is constituted. I focus on George Bernard Shaw’s Creative Evolution within the turn-of-the-century affair in the history of evolutionary thought, “eclipse of Darwinism”. I then consider Shaw’s concept of human beings as passionate creatures, which lies at the heart of Creative Evolution. I analyze how an epistemology of the body and the notion of the body as a process proceed from Shaw’s concept of passionate creatures.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wainscott, Ronald
Commitee: Gliboff, Sander, Goodlander, Jennifer, Owicki, Eleanor
School: Indiana University
Department: Theatre and Drama
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Theater, Gender studies
Keywords: Biopolitics, British theatre, Life science, Masculinity, Shaw, George Bernard
Publication Number: 10931762
ISBN: 978-0-438-32333-9
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