Masculinity Under Assault: Homosociality in Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Great Gatsby

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kiersten R. Eury (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Gary Lim

Abstract: Queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick developed a tool for literary analysis that is known as the erotic triangle, which she uses to study relationships in pre-twentieth century literature. Sedgwick used the erotic triangle to investigate the role of sexual desire in male relationships regarding the binary of heterosexuality and homosexuality. Her idea of “homosociality,” or male bonds with an erotic charge, is often seen when using erotic triangles to analyze norms of sexuality and gender through textual relationships. Sexuality and gender are oftentimes determinants of societal power, especially in the case of masculinity. The dominance of heteronormativity in society constructs masculinity as it conforms to heterosexuality, and thus, the level of an individual’s conformity to societal standards of gender and sexuality determines the individual’s masculine identity; consequently, any threat to heteronormativity leads to anxious masculinity. This essay extends Sedgwick’s work into early twentieth century literature by using erotic triangles to examine the homosocial bonds and heterosexual relationships in two novels: D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Following Sedgwick’s advisement against “historical blindness,” the literary texts’ representations of marriage will be historically contextualized by consulting marital advice manuals from the early twentieth century. In applying Sedgwick’s notions to the relationships in Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Great Gatsby, the complexities of homosociality and heteronormativity are revealed by illustrating how masculinity acts while under assault.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Language: English
Date: 2018
queer theory, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, homosociality, heteronormativity, masculinity, erotic triangle, marriage, marriage manuals

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