Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The relationship between mother and daughter is an important one for many women. In learning how to best become a successful member of society, daughters look to their mothers to demonstrate the behaviors and beliefs appropriate to a female. Such explicit and implicit instruction makes the mother-daughter relationship a central one in the socialization of women. Because it is such a powerful site, the mother-daughter relationship has received attention in the world of representation. Of particular import to this study is the representation of the mother-daughter relationship in Twentieth-Century American drama. Recent scholarship has shown that such representations can, however, have greater import than simply as representations of an interpersonal relationship. Instead, representations of mother-daughter relationships often represent and reinforce patriarchal norms of feminine behavior and social constraints. This study puts this recent scholarship into dialogue with many plays from the twentieth century, in order to explore this relationship between dramatic and theatrical representations of the mother-daughter relationship and patriarchal conventions. It is arranged thematically, so that plays with similar features of the mother-daughter relationship—“tropes”—are put into dialogue with one another. As a work of feminist scholarship, this work seeks to both identify patriarchal messages contained in plays throughout twentieth-century America, as well as the potential for resistance to those messages. It is not intended as a master-narrative of the discourse on the mother-daughter relationship, but rather as an opening of that discourse to the world of theatrical and dramatic representation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Leslie Wade