GSWS Graduate Student Colloquium

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 8:00am

Graduate Student Colloquium featuring Emily Gerstell (English) and Katie Price (English). Lunch will be served!

Emily Gerstell
 "The Widow's Service in All's Well That Ends Well"

This paper considers the role of service in Shakespeare’s play, All’s Well That Ends Well, paying particular attention to the workings of the two female-headed households, that of Countess Roussillion and that of the Florentine widow. Such a focus allows us to examine not only the way ideas of service configure the bonds between the women of each respective household, but also how allegiance to the dead patriarch’s memory and lineage is figured through both mourning and management of his legacy. In doing so, I argue that understanding these gendered relationships of service enables us to tease apart what makes this play so problematic. Paying attention to the complex class and status relationships amongst the women – be it between widow, wife and maid, or guest, host and neighbor – can tell us how these women are imagined to not only resist but also participate in, benefit from and perpetuate patriarchal structures of marriage and the household; such an analysis highlights the role women play in the “traffic of women” and points to the range of hierarchical and affective bonds that tie kith and kin together. Finally, by focusing in on the figure of the widow in these plays, we see how unusual the play’s treatment of these women is: All’s Well is one of the few plays to prominently feature widows who are depicted as neither lusty nor desirous of second marriage. In thinking about what, exactly, allows for these widows to defy stage norms, we may also think about how Helen positions herself as a quasi-widow and what that status allows her to accomplish.


Katie Price
The Exceptional Women of the Noulipo: An Introduction

The publication of The /n/oulipian Analects (Les Figues Press, 2007) loosely brought together a group of writers (mostly women) who practice Oulipian constraint-based writing principles, but with an exception.  These writers allow for a clinamen--an unpredictable swerve--into their writing, creating works that highlight the exceptional, the accidental and the idiosyncratic.  This presentation will introduce you to these writers and argue that their move away from strict constraint to playful constraintism is, in large part, a gendered female political move.

These colloquia are made possible through the generous support of GAPSA, the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program, the Departments of Comparative Literature, English, History, and History of Art, and the Center for Global Women's Health.