Contesting compliance : performativity, consciousness-raising, performance art, and Doin' It In Public
Olivia Hice Mitchell
May 9, 2012
Department or Program
Art History and Visual Culture Studies
This thesis contends that it is necessary to reassess hierarchical divisions between feminisms, like the delineation drawn to position post-structural feminism as distinct from and more advanced than cultural feminism. It argues that the assumption that the Woman’s Building (WB) was a space of less developed, less radical feminism forecloses analytical possibilities, and explores how applying Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to practices of consciousness-raising and performance art at the WB can reveal the complexity of the analysis occurring there. Judith Butler’s theory of performativity can be used to address the politics of gendered life in these practices at the WB, effectively illustrating the common threads which run through these feminist projects. Despite their differences, post-structural feminisms today are contingent on and exist in relation to feminisms of the past, and it is important to consider the intricacies of these movements with all of the available tactics and tools.