Date of Award
Master of Arts in English
The term "invalid," in its usage as a label for women who occupy the space of the "sick" bed, functions to reify socio-political apparatuses which inscribe pain onto the female body, diminish the value of the feminine, and reproduce oppression vis-a-vis gender. This thesis critiques languages and ideologies used by doctors and editors/ critics, as well as those used by nineteenth-century diarists Alice James and Achsa Sprague. This project examines the plurality of voices reflecting and projecting discourses that are now in conflict, now at plateau. Specifically, this thesis studies strategies used by James and Sprague to reclaim voice through inverting and/or contesting nineteenth-century socio-political languages depicting medical, religious, political, and domestic ideologies. Central to this project is an awareness of factors which inform the "sick" bed as a non-neutral space of economic production and exchange. Because Sprague and James both resisted the domestic roles of wife and mother, and because both endured prolonged confinements to the "sick" bed, their diaries are especially important documents for studying language, gender, and productivity in nineteenth-century American culture. This thesis participates in the ongoing efforts to re-validate discourses by women which have previously been "invalidated" by master narrators and narratives.
Grant, Susan, "REWRITING THE BODY POLITIC: THE ART OF ILLNESS AND THE PRODUCTION OF DESIRE IN THE DIARIES AND JOURNALS OF ALICE JAMES AND ACHSA SPRAGUE" (1993). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1811.