Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Elizabeth Hirsh, Ph.D.

Keywords

Androgeny, Victorian literature, The heavenly twins, Gender, Transvestite

Abstract

This thesis concerns female cross-dressing in nineteenth-century literature and the ways in which these images challenge gender and class hierarchies. Cross-dressing abounds in nineteenth-century literature, forming a thematic that crosses national boundaries. Therefore, this thesis considers works from both the British and American traditions. The primary texts explored are The Tenor and the Boy (1893) by Sarah Grand and The Hidden Hand, or Capitola the Madcap (1888) by E. D. E. N. Southworth. When published, both of these texts were commercial successes and can therefore be considered representative of popular literature of the time. The use of transvestite characters allows these authors to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gender and class roles. When cross-dressed, female characters cross both gender and class lines and participate in usually taboo arenas. For the most part, they are depicted as successful; at times, they might even be considered role models.The thesis contains four chapters: the introductory chapter which sets up definitions, briefly discusses cross-dressing's literary tradition in the west, and establishes the atmosphere in which these books were written and received; the next two chapters each examine a primary text--- The Tenor and the Boy, followed by The Hidden Hand; and the final chapter summarizes and concludes the work.

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