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The Handmaid’s Tale: the book, the show, the impact
Tuesday, August 14 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Gender politics and access or lack of power are core themes in The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopic novel about a sexually corrupt society where Puritan ideals have led to the enslavement of young women in the country of “Gilead”, located in the borders of the United States. The Handmaid’s Tale provides ample narrative materials and a particularly prescient basis to discuss many pressing contemporary social issues in different academic contexts.
The war front in The Handmaid’s Tale has been relocated in the domestic sphere of the American white, upper-middle-class home where women’s actual bodies are the battleground.
One of the ways to force the handmaids into submission is by robing them into red cloaks that are standard costumes. In addition, women are shielded from looking and being looked at by having to wear large, white hoods when they walk outside the house. This fictional costume has been appropriated by women protestors in 2017 to create awareness regarding women’s reproductive rights in the United States. In one of the early episodes of the second Hulu season, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) manages to escape and burns her red dress. Once recaptured, she will have to assume her role again, being forced into the same outfits.
Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff’s presentation will look at several examples from Season One and Two of Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale to discuss how dress codes, fashion and shedding dresses carry meanings of resistance. This is in contrast to the film adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) by German director Volker Schlöndorff.
Dr. Kelly Marino is going to discuss several issues relevant to her courses in women, gender, and sexuality studies where she teaches the introductory course. She is also going to provide a historical background for the dystopia, described in The Handmaid’s Tale.