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Gendered Models of Resistance

Jansenist Nuns and Unigenitus

Mita Choudhury

In the decades following the promulgation of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus, scores of nuns and convents resisted the efforts of authorities to make them acquiesce to the Bull. Male Jansenist authors writing from a figurist perspective transformed this female dissent into the model for all forms of spiritual resistance against Unigenitus. Their gendered constructions represented a challenge to the church hierarchy, forging nuns into a political weapon against the ultramontane episcopacy. The controversy over the Religieuses Hospitalières during the 1750s reveals how Jansenist lawyers and magistrates deployed the controversies over these “model” nuns to censure episcopal despotism and to legitimate parliamentary intervention in religious affairs, thereby opening the way to prescribing constitutional limits on the monarchy itself.

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Afsaneh Najmabadi

This article aims to provide a broad overview of the enormous transformations of gender and sexual relations and sensibilities that occurred in Iran from the early nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth century. In particular, it seeks to investigate how these changes—while not directly linked with a project of production of modern governmentable bodies in the sense that Foucault had proposed for a similar period of European history—were deeply connected with what it meant to 'achieve modernity' for the Iranian cultural elite of this period. The article ends by bringing this historical background to bear on some very recent developments that have come to public attention through the discussions of sex-change surgeries in Iran.

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Janet McDonald

In elite boys’ schools there is a level of anxiety about the perceived place of the curricular subject drama and how it might interact or interfere with the ironclad essentialist and homogenous masculinity promoted by elite all-boys’ schools. The feminization of the drama and the suspicion of males who “do drama” create a duplicitous tension for boys who take the subject as they walk the gendered tightrope between the expected public display of the “muscular Christian” and the tantalizing “drama faggot.” This paper offers some reflections about observations on and interviews with boys who “do drama” inside the male-only worlds of the Great Public School (GPS) of Brisbane, Australia. In these schools I observed masculinities were constantly disrupted (perhaps uniquely) in the drama classroom and explored by male drama teachers who provided a space in which to playfully interrogate the “muscular Christian ideal” of a boys’ school.

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Richard Johnson

English higher education, like other parts of the public sector and higher education in other countries, is currently undergoing considerable change as it is being restructured as if it were a market in which universities, departments and academics compete against one another. This restructuring is producing new processes of subjectivity that discipline those who work and study in higher education institutions. Feminist poststructuralists have suggested that this restructuring is enabled partly through new forms of accountability that seemingly offer the 'carrot' of self-realisation alongside the 'stick' of greater management surveillance of the burgeoning number of tasks that academics, amongst others, must perform. This paper, located in the context of these changes, builds on Judith Butler's insight that processes of subjection to the dominant order through which the self is produced entail both mastery and subjection. That is, submission requires mastery of the underlying assumptions of the dominant order, In this paper I adopt an auto/biographical method and a critique of abstract social theories to explore how the neoliberal restructuring of universities interacts with the gender order. Many universities are being remoulded as businesses for other businesses, with profound effects on internal relations, the subjectivities of academics and students, and practices of education and scholarship. Yet I doubt if we can understand this, nor resist the deep corruption, through grasping neoliberalism's dynamics alone. A longer memory and a more concrete analysis are needed. Today's intense individualisation impacts on pre-existing social relations, which inflect it unpredictably. From my own experience, I evoke the baseline of an older academy, gender-segregated, explicitly patriarchal and privileged in class and ethnic terms. I stress the feminist and democratic gains of the 1960s and 1970s. I sketch the (neoliberal) strategies that undermine or redirect them. I write this, hoping that the next episode can be written differently.

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Ecaterina Lung

The aim of this article is to highlight the ways in which women were represented in Byzantine historical works from the sixth to the ninth centuries. These are probably the best sources for a comprehensive understanding of Byzantine society, since they are more vivid, more related to literature than the law codes or archival documents, and less biased than the clergy’s writings. Like “Barbarians,” women were thought to be inferior, irrational, highly emotional, and unable to control their impulses. Byzantine women did not seem to have an identity of their own; they were always thought to be a reflection of a male. Byzantine authors believed that the normal behavior for women was to remain secluded in their houses, but when they actually presented individual women, these were almost always those who did not confine themselves to women’s quarters. A woman’s main avenue of entering written history was to behave like a man, renouncing her gender and acting in an independent manner.

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Girls Reconstructing Gender

Agency, Hybridity and Transformations of 'Femininity'

Jessica Laureltree Willis

What are the contours of cultural stories that explain how a girl becomes a girl? Girlhood is an identity position often taken for granted in the social world. Yet how girls learn to construct normalized gender identities can reveal important shifts in changing cultural ideas about societal expectations for female youth. Utilizing a cross-disciplinary approach, the basis for this discussion are individual interviews with preadolescent girls. Interpretive discoveries focus on how girls in their meaning-making and decision-making contribute to diverse cultural constructions of female subjectivity. This research pertains specifically to a small sample of girls from a large ethnically diverse city in the Northeast United States. The thematic patterns that emerge, nonetheless, offer broader insight into the diverse ways that girls fuse aspects of 'femininity' and 'masculinity' in establishing complex subjectivities. This practice of reimagining cultural conceptions of 'femininity' indicates girls' innovative contributions to the co-creation of culture in their acts of establishing subjectivity through agentive and alternative uses of discourse.

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Performing the Ultimate Grand Supreme

Approval, Gender and Identity in Toddlers & Tiaras

Christina Hodel

In spite of its popularity, makeover television is controversial with reality programs such as Toddlers & Tiaras transforming young girls into pint-sized versions of sexualized women. In this article I use various methods of analysis to better decode the visual images of the children appearing on the sensational series. Understanding the program makes clearer how gender and identity are constructed for the girls profiled in each episode. Findings reveal that youngsters' identity is approved of during beauty pageants only when they are hyper-gendered, follow heteronormative gender conventions, and undergo careful scrutiny of appearance by experts, yet exude original personality.

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Securing Intergenerational Kin Relationships and a House of One's Own

Muslims' Ways of Ageing Well in Kerala, India

Willemijn de Jong

The author explores trajectories of creating well-being with regard to old age in a poor Muslim community in Kerala, India. Theoretically, she draws on the nonstate-led concept of 'inclusive social security' and links it with the anthropology of the house. In doing so she takes approaches of 'making' kinship, gender, age as well as citizenship into account. Care and respect for the elderly result from strong but gendered intergenerational kin relationships in and around the house, which they establish for a large part themselves. Governmental and civil provisions play an enabling or supplementary role. Elderly women, particularly widows, benefit from property relationships that are less gendered. Surprisingly, there is a remarkable tendency of creating house ownership, and thus of bargaining power, for women in this community. It is suggested that this is effected by a combination of Muslim inheritance rules, recent dowry-giving practices and Kerala's matrilineal history.

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Steen Ledet Christiansen

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) produces a cinesthetic subject that articulates issues of gendered violence but at the same time also opens up space for producing a new subject outside of biopower. Tracing the production of pain as a way of feeling gendered violence rather than simply understanding it, the article also argues that Nina Sawyer’s transformation is an act of subversive becoming. Pain is produced by the film’s formal properties, pulling us along as viewers, and producing new modes of sensing biopower’s cultural techniques and subjugation of bodies. At the same time, pain becomes a path to a new mode of being.

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The Girl in the Mirror

The Psychic Economy of Class in the Discourse of Girlhood Studies

Valerie Hey

This article questions Angela McRobbie's recent text The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change because it creates some interesting new vocabulary for understanding late modernity's revised sexual and cultural politics. Whilst acknowledging the sophistication of its cultural studies-inspired argument, I consider some consequences of this reading. If theory also performs as a politics of representation, I ask what happens if, in accounting for post-feminism, the theoretical status of class as an antagonistic relation is diminished. I suggest what gender and education discourses can add to a reading of 'new times'.