Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
This dissertation argues that fin de siecle navigations of emerging categories of sexual identity were partially expressed in literary representations of supernatural connections, transformations, events, and practices. I build on Sexuality Studies and Queer Theory foundations by such scholars as Foucault, Halberstam, and Warner along with New Historicist scholarship about spiritualism in the nineteenth century to examine the connections between aberrant erotic desires and alternative forms of spirituality. Through readings of the anonymous Teleny (1893), Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Richard Marsh's The Beetle , and the poetry of Michael Field, I assert that queer sexual identities and acts, unspeakable, unfixed, and nebulous in the late Victorian years, were supported, represented, and navigated in these works through the use of spiritualism of various kinds. I conclude my project by examining how the Neo-Victorian Showtime series Penny Dreadful (2014-2016) reshapes Victorian practices into a new resource for the modern LGBTQ+ community, demonstrating the continuing importance of spiritualism and sexual desire in non-traditional identity and relationship building.
Kelly, Sharon E., "Late Victorian Sexuality and Spiritualism: The Place of the Paranormal in Queer Erotic Partnerships" (2018). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 5960.