Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Robert Baker

Commitee Members

Marton Marko, Elizabeth Hubble


Woolf, Mann, Cunningham, Modernism, queer temporality


University of Montana


The aim of this master’s thesis is to explore and discuss the narrative representation of temporal experience, taking as a lens the emerging discourse of queer temporality, its foundational vocabulary and preoccupations. The papers in this portfolio find three works of literary fiction from the twentieth-century to be particularly rich opportunities for discussion of both conventional and radical expectations of time's shape and directionality in relation to human sexuality. The first paper explores the role of temporal expectation in the competing discourses of modernism. Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain locates a tension between linear futurity and the dialectic of past and present characteristic of the avant-garde. Mann's novel illustrates the emergence of queerness as a lens with which to disrupt dominant ideologies and conventions, offering a stage upon which the novel’s protagonist may view the oppositional systems of cultural meaning at work. The second paper considers the body’s relationship to time in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Woolf puts forth the susceptibility of the physical self to time as a catalyst for self- expression, depicting a correlation between temporal fluidity and flexible identity performance̶in Orlando’s case, gendered multiplicity. The final paper reflects upon categories of sexual orientation and the understanding of the term 'queer' itself. Michael Cunningham’s The Hours further imagines the queer moment as a conversion between sexually oriented identities, highlighting the liminal space that essentialist categories inevitably create and reaffirming the work of the queer lens to disrupt architectures of assumed homogeneity. The result of these three papers as a group is an exploration of time, its relationship to perceptions of the self, particularly sexual identity, and a further imagining of temporal experience as both individual and interpretable.

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