In, Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety, Majorie Garber describes her theories of cross-dressing and its power to disrupt "cultural binarisms" of gender. She illustrates "cultural binarisms" as being a social obsession with the construction of opposing catagories which are themselves unstable-- such as male/female, rich/poor, native/foreigner, old/new. These polarizations, because they are so strongly ingrained into history and culture, dictate a social norm. However, they are easily transgressed-- specifically in the realm of gender by the cross-dresser.
Also, Garber claims that the presence of a cross-dresser in a text not only signifies a "category crisis" of gender, but also serves as a manifestation of a separate "category crisis" of other "cultural binarisms" within the text. She defines "category crisis" as: "a failure of definitial distinction, a borderline that becomes permeable, permitting border crossing from one apparently distinct category to another" (Garber,17).
With these theories in mind, I did a close reading of Herman Mann's The Female Reveiw: Life of Deborah Sampson, the Female Soldier. His account follows, very neatly, the theories examined by Garber. I found a close relationship between her theory of "category crisis" as manifested through the cross-dresser and Mann's concerns of the American Revolution (which was the war Samspon fought). Through some examination with the help of Garber's thery, it becomes apparent that Deborah Sampson is, in fact, indicative of another "crisis" that exceeds gender identity.
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