Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Impossibilities of Womanhood and Motherhood in Contemporary Horror Films: Critiquing Ideals of Archetypal Western Femininity
by Broemmer, Alexa M., M.A., Saint Louis University, 2020, 69; 27995198
Abstract (Summary)

Because today’s feminism is largely—and rightly—intersectional, there is currently little attention given to the institutions of motherhood and womanhood, their patriarchal roots, and the harms they can potentially inflict upon women in Western society. To determine if any progress has really been made in liberating women and, particularly, mothers from these roots, I analyzed several different accounts of creation and motherhood in the Catholic Bible as well as two contemporary horror films, Antichrist (2009) and mother! (2017), which both mirror, in their own ways, the stories of the biblical Eve and Mary.

Throughout my thesis, my framework primarily consist relies on second-wave feminists, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Daly, Hélène Cixous, Adrienne Rich, and Julia Kristeva because they question the role of motherhood and destabilize the male-authored world. I also use the work of feminist thinker Alison Jaggar and psychotherapist Anne Wilson Schaef to further demonstrate the dangers of living in the male-authored world or what Wilson Schaef would call the White Male System. René Girard’s work on scapegoating and Cathy Caruth’s work on trauma are also important to my project in that they allow me to demonstrate the ways in which women and mothers are often blamed for the wrongs of the world and that the institutions of womanhood and motherhood allow for women—since the beginning of time—to live through repeated cycles of oppression and trauma.

I come to the conclusion, after analyzing Eve and Mary’s stories in the Bible as well as the stories of She in Antichrist and mother in mother!, that the male-authored world is not sustainable. As it, and womanhood and motherhood, are currently situated, it is impossible to exist as a woman. Moreover, because of male hubris, it is impossible to exist as a strong, almighty man because his hold over the world is weak.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Evans, Ruth
Commitee: Stiles, Anne, Casaregola, Vincent
School: Saint Louis University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: MAI 82/2(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature, Film studies, Womens studies
Keywords: Femininity, Feminism, Horror, Language, Masculinity, Motherhood
Publication Number: 27995198
ISBN: 9798664726763
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