CAMS Major Grace Davis ’16 to Present Senior Comps Paper at National Honors Conference

9 February 2016

Grace Davis

CAMS Major Grace Davis ’16 will present her senior comps paper, “Rhoda the Beautiful: Negotiating Gender and Proper Femininity in ’70s Television Sitcoms, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda,” at the 42nd National Undergraduate Honors Conference at DePauw University, April 7-9, 2016. In the paper, Grace discusses the influence and evolution of The Mary Tyler Moore Show against the backdrop of historical and cultural change in the 1970s and the vital role of female friendships as Mary enters into a previously male dominated work force. Grace goes on to identify and discuss a pattern in character relationships in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, wherein the female protagonist is contrasted with the female sidekick. In the case of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Richards plays the normative role of white femininity while Rhoda Morgenstern represents the non-normative ethnically-marked figuration of femininity. The character of Rhoda was eventually spun off into her own series, where she was herself then normalized into a more acceptable version of femininity and a new female “other” was introduced, Rhoda’s little sister Brenda, who is figured as overweight, slovenly and undesirable. The characteristics and values assigned to the female protagonist and her “othered” sidekick are revealing of American culture’s ongoing negotiation of women’s roles and “proper” femininity in the 1970s.

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