Lesbian Texts and Subtexts: [De] Constructing the Lesbian Subject in Charlotte Bronte's Villette and Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca

Show full item record

Title: Lesbian Texts and Subtexts: [De] Constructing the Lesbian Subject in Charlotte Bronte's Villette and Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca
Author: Swift, Lindley N.
Advisors: Cat Warren, Committee Member
Antony Harrison, Committee Member
Leila May, Committee Chair
Abstract: The conflict between essentialist and constructionist standpoints constitute the primary division between proponents of lesbian literary theory and queer theorists. While essentialists view identity as fixed and innate, constructionists consider identity to be the unstable effect of social conditioning. Lesbian theorists argue that the destabilization of all identity categories, accomplished by queer theory, serves to undermine the importance of "lesbian" as a political identity. However, the success of queer theorists, such as Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, in challenging the hegemonic power structures that reinforce compulsory heterosexuality should not be underestimated. For the purpose of this thesis, I intend to bridge lesbian studies and queer theory by focusing on what I perceive as their similar aims, primarily the act of reading between the lines of heterosexual narratives. In order to do so, I have chosen to explore Villette by Charlotte Brontë and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier from these two competing perspectives. I first examine Villette through the lens of lesbian theory in order to rethink binary oppositions, such as private/public and secrecy/disclosure, as they appear in the text to reveal the forbidden and thus transgressive expression of female same-sex desire or lesbianism and its subsequent repression to the metaphorical realm of the closet. I then use queer theory to deconstruct gender and sexuality in Rebecca in the hopes of demonstrating how representations of lesbian desire may serve to subvert naturalized, hegemonic definitions of both.
Date: 2006-08-07
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2145


Files in this item

Files Size Format View
etd.pdf 236.8Kb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record