MODELING PROFESSIONAL FEMININITY THROUGH U.S. MEDIA CULTURE, 1963-2015 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Arizzi, Erin
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
Abstract
  • From 1963 to 2015, the introduction of women into the U.S. workplace has dramatically altered cultures of work. In this dissertation, I explore the relationship between women and work not through “work life balance,” but through an analysis of various models of professional femininity through U.S. media culture. I track these figures in terms of what I call, "the professionalization of femininity," considering forms of the professionalization of domesticity in entrepreneurial homemaking and home economics, and the professionalization of feminism in the form of the feminist professor, the feminist activist, and the career woman. I am interested in exploring degraded sites of feminist theory (the heterosexual cis-gender white woman, the domestic, the mainstream, etc.) precisely because these sites offer insight into liberal feminism’s internal contradictions. This is then, both a study of the contradictions implicit within femininity (between domesticity and feminism), and a study of historical change. My archive includes various materials from the women's liberation movement as well as the work and lives of three particular women, each of whom has a particular relation to professional femininity through U.S. media culture. Considering professional femininity since the publication of The Feminine Mystique and working across rhetoric, media studies, history, and feminist/gender studies, this project considers the figures under discussion as models and also as modeling forms of professional femininity at multiple levels and in relation to various scenes (of knowledge production, genre, media culture, etc). Individual chapters discuss Joan Didion’s literary and journalistic work in relation to the 1960s, Ree Drummond’s work as a blogger in relation to the invention of the internet and the emergence of new forms of domesticity, and Kelly Reichardt’s filmmaking in relation to realist aesthetics. The story I tell traces these contradictions, as I move from Joan Didion's depictions of professional femininity in relation to women’s liberation, to Ree Drummond's affirmatively positive professionalized domesticity in relation to the history of home economics, and finally, to Kelly Reichardt's America, where a crisis involving professional femininity is being represented through a kind of cinematic realism that has echoes in early (and forgotten) feminist film theory.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Palm, Michael
  • Wiegman, Robyn
  • Turk, Katherine
  • Blair, Carole
  • Lamm, Kimberly
  • Cante, Richard C.
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
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