Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Rebecca Stern

Abstract

Though Lucy Snowe has been read as an agent of queer nonconformity and as a master of ambiguity, queer interpretations of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette have remained relatively scarce and limited in scope. This essay examines Lucy Snow’s unique model of queer experience that manifests not only in moments of openly subversive gender performance, homoerotic desire, or sexual identity, but also as an oppositional mode of organizing and articulating her life in terms of time. Using the temporally queer metaphor of the ghost, this essay explores Lucy’s resistance to frameworks of time which structure life narratives through logics of heterosexual development from childhood to adulthood, solitude to marriage, or marriage to reproduction. Lucy mobilizes the phantasmal as a language for the instability of heteronormative chronological markers, the difficulty of communicating queer experience alongside normative expectations, and finally, as a model through which asynchrony can lead to positive queer affect outside of heterosexual temporal logics. Where Lucy’s queerness has chiefly been analyzed through her subversive actions and experiences, this essay posits that investigating Lucy’s queer spectrality engages the necessity of conceptualizing queerness as a mode of being in time that offers both deconstructive and constructive ontological possibilities.

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