Risky performances: A feminist, dramaturgical exploration of the female diarist as resistant
Mulcahy, Caitlin Maureen
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This study seeks to explore the meaning of diary-keeping for women. In particular, this research is focused on the relationships between the diary and leisure, the diary and performance, and the diary and dominant gender discourse. This study is guided by a feminist, dramaturgical, qualitative, interpretive framework. Unstructured “active” interviews with seven women in a rural, Nova Scotian community were used to create a collaborative process driven by the participants’ experiences as diarists. The phenomenological method was used to analyze the resulting transcripts. By incorporating interviews with diarists into the analysis, and by framing the research within leisure studies, this research addresses two gaps in the existing literature on diaries: the lack of women’s voices in the interpretation of their diaries and the absence of the diary in leisure studies. This study found that the social experience of diary-keeping can reproduce dominant gender discourses; however, findings also demonstrated that women use their diaries to resist the ethic of care, disrupt oppressive dichotomies and take control of the direction of their lives. Furthermore, diaries are meaningful insofar as they allow the diarist to take control of her personal space, time, and life story. Through this space the diarist can perform the story of her life in whatever way she sees fit; she takes her performance to the public, despite the risk of doing so. Therefore, though the diary can act to reproduce traditional notions of femininity, this research found that it can also be a space for women to resist dominant gender discourses.