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Intersecting Axes: Narrative and Culture in Versions of the Lizzie Borden Story (A Performative Approach)

Miller, Stephanie (2010) Intersecting Axes: Narrative and Culture in Versions of the Lizzie Borden Story (A Performative Approach). PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines versions of the story of 32-year-old New Englander Lizzie Andrew Borden, famously accused of axe-murdering her stepmother Abby and father Andrew in 1892. Informed by narrative and feminist theories, INTERSECTING AXES draws upon interdisciplinary, contemporary re-workings of Judith Butler’s concept of “performativity” to explore the ways in which versions of the Lizzie Borden story negotiate such themes as repetition and difference, freedom and constraint, revision and reprisal, contingency and determinism, the specific and the universal. The project emphasizes and embraces the paradoxical sense in which interpretations are both enabled and constrained by the contextual situation of the interpreter and analyzes the relationship between individual versions and the cultural constructs they enact while purporting to describe. Moving away from symptomatic reading and its psychoanalytic underpinnings to focus upon the interpretive frames by which our understandings of Lizzie Borden versions (and of narrative/cultural texts more broadly) are shaped, this project exposes the complex performative processes whereby meaning is created. The chapters of this thesis offer contextual readings of a short story by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, a ballet by Agnes de Mille, a made-for-television by Paul Wendkos, and a short story by Angela Carter to argue for the theoretical, political, narratological, cultural, and interpretive benefits of approaching the relationship between texts and contexts through a uniquely contemporary concept of performativity, bringing a valuable new perspective to current debates about the intersection of narrative and culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: "The Long Arm", "The Legend of Lizzie Borden", "Fall River Legend", ballet, "The Fall River Axe Murders", "Lizzie's Tiger", feminism, performativity, performance, Butler, gender, narrativity, fictionality, narrative, culture, popular, interdisciplinarity, literary, theory, politics, intermediality, representation, versions, symptomatic, context, women, violence
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Stephanie Miller
Date Deposited: 16 May 2011 09:54
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1450

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