Beckman Fellow 2010-11

Anna Westerstahl Stenport

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Sexonomics: Gendered Economies of Expression in European Modern Drama, 1880-1910

Cultural scientists have described how the discourses of science, medicine, and logic rationalized gender inequalities by the end of the nineteenth century. Professor Stenport has undertaken a research project to examine the discourses of various modern European dramas and describe how their texts, performances, and production histories inform the gendered nature of contemporary global capitalism. During her Center appointment, she will describe her research and ideas in a draft manuscript titled, Sexonomics: Gendered Economies of Expression in European Modern Drama, 1880-1910.

This study is the first to analyze from gender perspectives the function of money metaphors and economic discourse in European modern drama. As noted in the project title, Professor Stenport’s lens is figurations of economics that appear in the works of European playwrights (August Strindberg, Gerhart Hauptmann, Henrik Ibsen, Maurice Maeterlinck, Frank Wedekind, and Oscar Wilde) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

The manuscript is conceived as three parts. Part I investigates how gender and economics intersect in two privileged spaces of modern drama: drawing rooms and artists’ studios. Part II centers on how the dramatic dialog describes human relationships in terms of gendered financial transactions and naturalizes the economic structures underlying such assumptions. Part III is concerned with the body on stage and includes a study of stage practices and production conditions.

Professor Stenport plans to extend her research results to additional projects. In 2012, she will assist in the University’s production of Strindberg’s “Ghost Sonata”; teach an interdisciplinary seminar on “Money, European Modern Drama, and Strindberg”; and plan an international conference on European modern drama, to be hosted on campus.