A nation’s voice in a woman’s words: female/feminist Armenian playwriting in the western diaspora.

Semerciyan, Silva (2023) A nation’s voice in a woman’s words: female/feminist Armenian playwriting in the western diaspora. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Playwriting by Armenian women is at an early stage of definition and scrutiny. Armenian feminism, having begun in the late 19th century, was disrupted by events of the First World War, in which over 1.5 million Armenians perished. In its aftermath, Armenian women have been central to rebuilding the Armenian nation, at times to the detriment of their own gender-based struggles. The contemporary concerns of Armenian women of the diaspora have been largely overlooked or treated as a destabilising threat to an already fragile Armenian identity.

This thesis asks how the feminist Armenian playwright can best communicate the tensions between self-actualisation of the Armenian female and regeneration of the Armenian nation when communication from the Armenian community as a whole has been internationally suppressed. It makes a case for a feminist Armenian dramaturgy, identifying and defining the aesthetics and recurrent themes of female/feminist Armenian playwriting, and locates it within Armenian feminism more broadly. Towards this, it analyses key works in the emerging corpus of dramatic writing by Armenian women including Nine Armenians by Leslie Ayvazian, Dance Mama Dance by Barbara Bejoian and Daybreak by Joyce Van Dyke. It further argues that this work rightly embraces the realistic dramatic tradition to appeal to the broadest possible audience in the hope of remedying playwright William Saroyan’s lament that Armenian literature is ‘never read’.

These critical investigations form the foundation of a trilogy of original plays which engage with the female Armenian experience past and present, furthering explorations into (Marianne Hirsch’s) postmemory, witness and testimony, and truth and reconciliation. In the unique intersections of feminism and Armenian ethnicity may be found the same legacies of historical trauma and imperialism as those of other defeated nations. These three new plays envision a future for Armenians of the diaspora and the homeland that at present can only be enjoyed by imaginary characters in works of art.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 28 May 2024 10:08
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 10:08
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/95316

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