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A Study of Homosexuality in Willa Cather’s My Antonia: from the Perspective of Queer Theory

Author: XuLan
Tutor: ZouZuo
School: Zhejiang Technology and Business University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Willa Cather My Antonia queer theory homosexuality
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Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 147
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Abstract


Willa Cather was a successful woman writer at the turn of the twentieth century. Her prairie novels, which feature lives and landscapes in the American west, are very popular among readers. My Antonia is often considered as her representative novel. Drawing on much of author’s autobiographical materials, this novel has a subtle and deep meaning. It has been studied by critics from many perspectives. As a lesbian writer, Cather projects her own problematic gender identity onto her characters. As a woman writer, she vividly depicts homosexual people’s feeling, life experience, and the oppression and prejudice they face. From queer theory, this thesis mainly investigates the main characters in this novel, focusing on their homosexual attitudes and behaviors. It is hoped that this study will help us have a better understanding of homosexuality as a social and psychological phenomenon, thus we can treat this often disadvantaged group better and with more care.This thesis has four chapters. Chapter one introduces the research topic:the homosexuality in Willa Cather’s My Antonia. Chapter two introduces interpretative methodology:queer theory. Chapter three is a close textual analysis of the five homosexual characters in this novel. Narrator Jim is homosexual; he has very weak masculinity and strong femininity. Antonia, the main female character, is an earth mother and shows strong masculinity. Besides, Antonia psychologically identifies with men but women. Lena Lingard well represents Cather’s own attitude. She pursues her own career, trying to be economically and personally impendent. Their emotional experiences are very representative of the homosexual. Chapter four concludes this thesis and states its significance for Chinese readers today.

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