Year of Publication

2003

Document Type

Thesis

College

Fine Arts

Department

Theatre

First Advisor

Geraldine Maschio

Second Advisor

Russell Henderson

Abstract

Utilizing a model based on Queer theory and comprising four relational paradigms, this thesis examines specific dramas of Mae West and Terrence McNally in an effort to understand the multiple relationships between the text, the society and the culture in the production of a gay male identity and its representation on the American stage in the 1920s and the 1990s. Each relational paradigm is the product of a different twentieth century scholar and can be viewed as an individual lens through which one aspect of a drama or culture can be magnified, illuminated or distorted. These paradigms are: culture and power; science and sex; gender and performance; plus structurization and identity. The most significant paradigm, structurization, provides the culminating focal point for the contributions of the other relational paradigms. Through this examination, Mae Wests dramas in the 1920s produced a prescriptive attitude toward the gay male in society, a thing to be cured. The dramas of Terrence McNally produced a subscriptive attitude toward the gay male, an equal human being who should not be marginalized. Ultimately, Broadway Theater can be seen as a site of cultural production that shapes the views of its audience as much as it is shaped by the larger society in which it exists.

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