Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Theatre and Dance: Theatre

Committee Chair

Ann Haugo


In the past ten years, a critique of the conceptualization of refugees in Western mass media has emerged as a developing discourse in response to post-20th century genocides. Photographs in mass media of wailing refugees began to appear in the early 1990s when reports of the Bosnian genocide appeared in the United States. These images, and the stereotypes that surround them, contribute to the universal depiction of refugees as weak. Though the way in which theatre comments on this conceptualization of refugees has largely been ignored, theatre has a unique ability to comment on, reflect, and create a culture that can contribute to the imagining of categories of people. Using theories rooted in Melodrama and trauma studies, this thesis looks at how historical stereotypes of women shape the way audiences imagine refugees in theatrical representations of genocide. In Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets and Ellen McLaughlin’s The Trojan Women, three traditional stereotypes of women are portrayed: the mother, the hysterical woman, and woman as Other. This thesis examines how these plays use these stereotypes to juxtapose or reinforce these images.


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