Date of Award

8-3-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Women's Studies

First Advisor

Mary Hocks - Chair

Second Advisor

Gregory Smith

Third Advisor

Maria Gindhart

Fourth Advisor

Susan Richmond

Abstract

This thesis seeks to demonstrate that although Laurie Anderson’s performance works are technologically driven and often involve gender play, seemingly transgressing the gender binary, ultimately she reinscribes traditional gender norms. On the one hand, Anderson has been a pioneer in the use of electronic technology, which is significant considering she is a woman and electronics is a male-dominated arena; on the other hand, her ambiguously- gendered cyborg persona, which does often raise awareness about gender stereotypes, ultimately reinscribes traditional gender norms. Although I consider these issues as they pertain specifically to Anderson, the significance of this project lies in the broader picture. Are there limits to gender performativity? Is it possible to break traditional gender norms? Must gender norms constantly reinscribe themselves regardless of new technology? As gender norms are deeply rooted in society, they are difficult to escape, as Anderson’s work demonstrates.

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