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University of California, Riverside

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This dissertation juxtaposes the romantic modal treatment of powerful, admired women which canonical male authors and feminist authors and critics construct with those constructed by contemporary women for the visual mass media of video, broadcast television, and computer. The discourse of the former produces the figure of a fragmented woman who is rare, supernatural, marginalized, and impossible. The discourse of the latter produces the figure of a psychologized woman who is typical, natural, mainstream, and possible. To examine the discourse of impossibility, I use three canonical works: Augustine's Confessions; Chretien de Troyes' Perceval; and Dante's Divine Comedy. I also survey feminist critics and artists and discover a cultural positioning by the critics and a construction of the feminine by the artists analogous to that of the canonical fathers--marginal, utopic, fragmented, and impossible. To examine the discourse of possibility, I analyze four works by women produced for the video, television, and computer, all of which narrativize the psychologized inner life of the female hero: Candida Royalle' s erotic videos, Revelations and Three Daughters; Neema Barnette's made-fortelevision movie, Scattered Dreams; and Jane Jensen's novelized computer game, Gabriel Knight. All the women authors covered in this dissertation assume that women viewers and players enjoy a variety of specular pleasures traditionally considered male privilege: erotica, recognition, narrative, action, and power. Their work women/technology, women/power. It also breaches the traditional boundaries between art and politics and science and art.


English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies