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Women in Howard Barker’s Theatre: Object or Subject?

Finburgh, Clare. 2008. Women in Howard Barker’s Theatre: Object or Subject? Études britanniques contemporaines, 35, pp. 127-139. ISSN 1168-4917 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an object can be defined, amongst other things, as “the person or thing to which something is done, or on which something acts or operates”. Since classical antiquity, no form has been used as symbol, icon or image in European culture, more than the female body: from Athena as emblem of military victory; to Medusa as figuration of horror, to Mary as incarnation of purity. However, these female figures have tended to affirm the general good – or bad – rather than to affirm their own identity, specificity or subjectivity. The idealised – or demonised – female form in art and culture is “the person or thing to which something is done, or on which something acts or operates”; in other words, an object. Numerous female protagonists in Barker’s theatre contest objectification, transcending it with their subjectivity. Here, I discuss Judith from Barker’s play of the same name (1990). I summarise the story of Judith from the Bible. I then show how successive generations of theological and moral ideologies have acted upon her body, desire and sexuality, transforming her into an object. By analysing Barker’s playtext and several productions of the play, I suggest that Barker’s Judith fleetingly affirms her status as subject, before mythology straitjackets her back into an object for its discourses of order and power.

Item Type:

Article

Keywords:

Howard Barker, feminism, Judith, theatre

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)

Dates:

DateEvent
2008Published

Item ID:

22758

Date Deposited:

11 Jan 2018 10:39

Last Modified:

11 Jan 2018 10:39

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/22758

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