Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Tanya Agathocleous

Committee Members

Nancy K. Miller

Sonali Perera

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America | Literature in English, British Isles | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


queer theory, the novel, the archive, narratology, utopia


This dissertation examines how queer and postcolonial novels respond to the archive as a determiner of what stories we can and cannot tell through formal experimentation that omits expected elements. Focusing on the subject- and object-making power and the tekhne of inclusion and exclusion that shape the modern archive, I analyze how novels spanning the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century refuse to mimetically reproduce bodies that were traditionally made the object of that knowledge in ways legible to the familiar archival forms. Instead, these novels turn the exclusion of the archive back on itself by manifesting lacunae that not only omit the expected plot points and disclosures but create space for an inchoate otherwise to emerge, a double move of refusal and utopian gesture that I call Ømimesis (“null mimesis”). This approach follows historians and cultural theorists alike in understanding the archive as a producer of positivist knowledge through hierarchical taxonomy and omission that also crafts forms and narratives that become familiar as a grammar for shaping categories of the human and recognizable plots. In readings of novels by Virginia Woolf, Olive Schreiner, Christopher Isherwood, Jamaica Kincaid, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Jordy Rosenberg, I demonstrate how novels resist the disciplinary force of the archive through plays of nondisclosure that create generic instabilities. By doing so, they create gaps of speculation, or spaces of potentiality in which something can take shape but has not yet.

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