cover of book

The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter
by Kathleen Rowe Karlyn
University of Texas Press, 1995
Cloth: 978-0-292-79072-8 | Paper: 978-0-292-77069-0 | eISBN: 978-0-292-77323-3
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.9.W6R65 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.43652042


Unruly women have been making a spectacle of themselves in film and on television from Mae West to Roseanne Arnold. In this groundbreaking work, Kathleen Rowe explores how the unruly woman—often a voluptuous, noisy, joke-making rebel or "woman on top"—uses humor and excess to undermine patriarchal norms and authority.

At the heart of the book are detailed analyses of two highly successful unruly women—the comedian Roseanne Arnold and the Muppet Miss Piggy. Putting these two figures in a deeper cultural perspective, Rowe also examines the evolution of romantic film comedy from the classical Hollywood period to the present, showing how the comedic roles of actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, and Marilyn Monroe offered an alternative, empowered image of women that differed sharply from the "suffering heroine" portrayed in classical melodramas.

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