Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Skrodzka-Bates, Aga

Committee Member

Morris , Keith

Committee Member

Palmer , R Barton

Abstract

Relying on the work of poststructuralists Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Judith Halberstam for their findings on gender and sexuality, as well as the sociological study of intersexed individuals by Sharon Preves, this thesis will show the identity construction of the intersexed both before and after intervention by closely charting their plight as it is presented in Michel Foucault's Herculine Barbin (1980) and Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex (2003). These texts vary greatly in historical significance, genre, and audience, but nevertheless suggest the same argument regarding the construction of identity. Ultimately, it is the self whose definition is of the greatest importance. This work expands on the importance and process of constructing an accurate gendered identity by focusing on desire for the other and for the desire of the other with a discussion of the relationship between the subject and object. It will also address the body as restrictive and oppressive, but also as a sanctuary which houses difference and the idea of isolation versus socialization, the concept of finding oneself, but doing so by rejecting society. Society may mark and mangle, may suggest and single out, those who do not conform to the standard norms, but as is evident by the desire of both Barbin and Calliope to shed the confining eye of society to escape into isolation, one's gendered identity must be created independently from what others perceive as appropriate.

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