Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Watson, Bruce Wallace Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-042299-214236 Title Androgyny and Dominance: Gender Construction in Anaïs Nin's Erotica Series Degree Master of Arts Department English Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Downs-Gamble, Margaret Committee Chair Graham, Peter Committee Member Kiebuzinska, Christine Committee Member Keywords
Date of Defense 1999-04-06 Availability restricted AbstractAndrogyny and Dominance:
Gender Construction in Anaïs Nin’s Erotica Series
Bruce W. Watson
Committee Chair: Margaret Downs-Gamble
Anaïs Nin’s Diary and her fiction have been lauded by critics for their imagery,
Freudian allusions, and creativity. What has not been considered, and is equally important,
is her Erotica series, Delta of Venus and Little Birds. These books, her most popular, not
only address the issues that she covers in her other works, but also ask questions about
how humans are gendered, and consider the degree to which individuals construct their
own gender identities. In exploring these questions, she presages not only the theorists
who effectively deconstruct her message, but also the gender-bending society which
Queer theory is particularly effective for considering the sexual messages with
which Nin populates her writings. Much as Judith Butler de-emphasizes totalizing gender
roles, Nin allows her characters to occupy multiple gender roles. Thus, Nin’s female
protagonists often take on the sexual positions generally granted to men in American
society. Conversely, her male characters are often relegated to less-empowered roles.
Although these shifts might not seem particularly impressive in our more liberated society,
they were undoubtedly surprising in Nin’s day. Moreover, it is impressive that these role-reversing
characters were created over forty years before the advent of queer theory, and
long before the popular rise of the Feminist movement.
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