Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

David Coombs

Committee Member

Erin Goss

Committee Member

Matthew Hooley


Queer readings of the Gothic traditionally privilege and prioritize a lens of stabilized sexuality at the forefront of their framework for tackling the genre and its works, often dismissing the destabilizing effects of gender queerness in their theoretical pre-occupations. This thesis takes up Susan Stryker’s political project of de-centering and de-privileging queer-sexuality as the primary lens of queer critique and does so through a reading of Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” to read Carmilla as a prototypically trans character, a topos that is woven in and inseparable from her status as a paradigmatic Gothic monster. The Gothic is read as trans and the trans as Gothic through a framework constructed with Ian Hacking’s notions of “Making Up People,” tracing the pessimistic past and trauma in the advent of queer identities in how they are constructed. It also examines some of the earliest crystallization of transgender embodiment in medical literature through Havelock Ellis’ Studies in the Psychology of Sex as a way to understand the transgender-tinged queerness of Carmilla fifty-six years prior. This thesis then concludes that both Gothic technology and the technology of medical literature, where gender-aberrant subjects are concerned, are devoted to a necropolitical project of creating boundaries for the kind of gender-aberrancy they explore, ensuring through necropolitics that the monstrously gendered subject cannot upend hegemonic notions of gender that it is created to undergird.



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