Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Calvin Thomas

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Dr. Wayne Erickson

Abstract

This dissertation sets out to explore Lacan’s idea of the paradoxical condition of the masculine gender construction. As privileged, favored, powerful, entitled, and hegemonic as it may seem, masculinity does not come without its awareness of what Lacan has most accurately labeled the “threat or even […] the guise of deprivation.” In fact, this construction not only assumes threat and deprivation to its identity but goes so far as to rely upon these potential attacks as necessities in order to perform itself. In other words, the masculine role can only be identified, recognized and/or mean when presented with a threat. As with any identity, masculinity is not autonomous nor is it essential in signification; it must confront that which is not masculine, that which is always a potential threat to its identity, if it is to appear in any way privileged, favored, powerful, entitled, hegemonic or whatever any culture construes masculinity to be. This argument is applied to four of Shakespeare’s comedies in terms of the male characters’ ability or reason to speak.

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