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Transhistorical tropes of female subordination


"A society defines itself partly through the stories it tells about itself. There is an interchange between the individuals who consume the stories and the society the produces them, each influencing the other. The project Transhistorical Tropes of Female Subordination analyses this interchange through three ubiquitous tropes in present-day fiction - referred pain, women suffering patiently for love, and dead or absent mothers - and traces their roots in narratives of earlier periods. The tropes, analysed from a transhistorical perspective, carry a socialising message: women should accept that men’s feelings are more important than theirs; accept brutal or indifferent treatment as tokens of love; and accept that a father is a more important parent than a mother. The tropes relate to different stages in a woman’s life. Referred pain is mainifest in texts focusing on daughters or lovers, women suffering for love is concerned with young women transformed into wives and dead mothers focuses on the construction and upholding of he family unit. Previous research on these tropes has generally not used a transhistorical perspective, and transhistorical studies of literature have rarely included analyses of gender. The tropes are all based on an understanding of women as ancillary to men, as irrelevant and expendable. These are assumptions that are seemingly out of touch with modern society. Yet, the fact that the tropes are constantly circulated shows that they are as understandable and acceptable to a present-day audience as to those of previous ages. It is important to make them visible and problematise the regulative discourses they participate in, as well as ask the question what it is that makes them attractive to a present-day audience, what functions they fulfil."

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Bishop hall lane
CM1 1SQ Chelmsford
United Kingdom

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East of England Essex Heart of Essex
Administrative Contact
Geri Wren (Ms.)
EU contribution
No data