Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Jane Gallop

Committee Members

Richard Grusin, Jason Puskar, Rebekah Sheldon, Gerry Canavan

Keywords

American Literature, Modernism, Nonhuman Theory, Queer Theory, Theories of Temporality, The Weird

Abstract

This dissertation theorizes “the Weird” as a pervasive theme across literary Modernism. Drawing from early versions of weirdness in the pulp magazine Weird Tales (1923-1954) and from the magazine’s most famous writer, H.P. Lovecraft, I demonstrate that the weird must not be limited to tentacular horrors present in supernatural fiction of the period. Instead, I argue weirdness is a category bound to non-normative experiences of material embodiment. Drawing from feminist materialisms, queer theory, disability studies, and nonhuman theories, this project develops a concept of the Weird that is more expansive and ultimately more ethically engaged with otherness and bodily difference. I read the work of Carson McCullers, Djuna Barnes, and Zora Neale Hurston as revisionary versions of the Weird that argues for its liberatory power as well as restores the threat inherent in that power. By showing that the Weird is present throughout modernist fiction, I argue for a new way of conceptualizing modernist obsessions with non-normative embodiment.