Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Dennis Allen

Committee Co-Chair

Ryan Claycomb

Committee Member

Lisa DiBartolomeo

Committee Member

John Lamb

Committee Member

Lisa Weihman


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.