Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Andrew Berish

Keywords

cross-dressing, gender, liminal, mock wedding, play, women's college

Abstract

Junior-freshmen weddings were all-female mock weddings that were performed as annual traditions on college campuses throughout the U.S. in the early part of the twentieth-century. In the weddings, college women played both the men's and women's roles, and were joined as husband and wife by their college administration. This thesis focuses on the junior-freshman weddings of Florida State College for Women during the years 1909-1925 and argues that the weddings expressed the conflicted cultural contexts that college women in the Progressive Era confronted, but that, significantly, this expression was done through passing performances of gender. The women's choice of passing performances in the junior-freshman weddings allowed them to appropriate metaphors of masculinity as their own, thereby challenging a dominant gender ideology that limited their roles within society and their relationship with structures of power. In their performances of gender, play is the language they used to express this challenge.

Because there were no existing scholarly studies of junior-freshmen weddings, it was necessary to comparatively examine analyses of other types of mock weddings. Through this examination it was possible to elucidate a working definition of what mock weddings are, which helps to understand not only junior-freshmen weddings, but also provides a framework from which to investigate the many other types of mock weddings that are as of yet unstudied.

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