"Philosophers in petticoats" : a feminist analysis of the discursive practices of Mary Taylor, Mary Colclough and Ellen Ellis as contributors to debate on the 'woman question' in New Zealand between 1845-1885
Thesis DisciplineFeminist Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Utilising a feminist poststructuralist analytic framework and employing methodological assumptions associated with the New Historicism this study considers the processes involved in developing resistant discursive strategies and the theoretical potential of marginality as a site for the transformation of social relations. This is accomplished through attention to the subjectivities, identities and social practices of three nineteenth century women's right advocates Mary Taylor, Mary Colclough and Ellen Ellis. The women at the centre of this study are positioned as ex-centric subjects with subversive subjectivities. It is argued that, in their assumptions regarding the natures of 'woman' and 'man', in their understandings of themselves as women, in their strategic invocations of identity, and in their daily social practices, each of these women disrupted dominant nineteenth century understandings about women's nature, place and role. In challenging the boundaries of women’s prescribed activities in their own lives, and in encouraging other women to do so, each made significant contributions to women's increased participation as women in many aspects of social and political life in the mid- to late- nineteenth century in New Zealand.