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The Tragic Heroine across Cultures.


Domnica Radulescu (Washington and Lee University)

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Defiant and despairing, rebellious and resistant, exiled or entrapped, the women discussed in Domnica Radulescu’s Sisters of Medea. The Tragic Heroine across Cultures  are as much part of the Western literary tradition as they have been part of our culture and society.  Sisters of Medea is an unprecedented exploration of the tragic heroine from a feminist perspective.  It offers a panoramic view of heroines from various historical periods and geographical areas and redefines the tragic in terms of values and predicaments specific to female characters as well as to women outside the area of representation. 

The book is largely comparative and is poised on the fine line between the constants and variants of the tragic heroine throughout significant historical and literary periods from Attic and Latin Tragedy, to the folklore of Old Europe, to Nineteenth Century French novel, to twentieth century avant-garde theater. Based on an interdisciplinary approach which combines gender studies, cultural anthropology, archetypal analysis and performance theory, Sisters of Medea attempts to counteract the very marginal status that the tragic heroine has acquired among scholars and philosophers.   She is brought to the center of discussions on the tragic, not as an extension of the hero, but as an independent figure in her own right.   The figure of Medea ultimately becomes the central symbol of the book as she challenges us to not only resist all forms of oppression but also to subvert the very myths, artistic works and all forms of artistic representation which have contributed in some form or another to the exile, imprisonment, suffering, deformation or misinterpretation of women.      

Domnica Radulescu, a native of Romania, settled in the United States in 1983 as a political refugee.   She obtained a Ph.D in Romance Languages from the University of Chicago, in 1992.  She is an Associate Professor of French and Italian Literature and co-chair of the Women’s Studies Program at Washington and Lee University.  Author of a book on André Malraux and of articles on Malraux, Camus, George Sand, as well as of a recent book entitled Realms of Exile.  Nomadism, Diasporas and Eastern European Voices (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), Domnica Radulescu has also been involved in theater and has worked as a theater director for more than a decade.  She has directed plays by Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Fernando Arrabal, Jean Tardieu and is the creator and director of the National Symposium of Theater in Academe.


ISBN 1-931948-48-8