Thesis

American storytelling and the evolution of gender relations spanning one hundred and fifty years of literature and film

We are in need of a more subversive reading of past and present literature and film that allows not only for a feminist literary history, but also for a feminist future in which men are more comfortable responding to and accepting women as equal to them and women are more comfortable exercising that equality. I will argue in this thesis that various authors and filmmakers allow for models on how this relationship should exist, as well as cautionary tales for how it should not exist. These models also show how that negotiation between self and state, as well as interpersonal relationships, should be allowed to occur and flourish. By starting at mid-19th century domestic tales and moving forward into modern film and literature, we can track not only the course of where our stories have taken us, but also where we can take them in order to get to where we need to go in the future.

We are in need of a more subversive reading of past and present literature and film that allows not only for a feminist literary history, but also for a feminist future in which men are more comfortable responding to and accepting women as equal to them and women are more comfortable exercising that equality. I will argue in this thesis that various authors and filmmakers allow for models on how this relationship should exist, as well as cautionary tales for how it should not exist. These models also show how that negotiation between self and state, as well as interpersonal relationships, should be allowed to occur and flourish. By starting at mid-19th century domestic tales and moving forward into modern film and literature, we can track not only the course of where our stories have taken us, but also where we can take them in order to get to where we need to go in the future.

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