Master of Arts (MA)
Phillip L. Marcus
Djuna Barnes, androgyny, Derrida, Deconstruction, Modernism, Nightwood, sex, gender, feminism, queer theory
Date of Defense
Modern writers like Djuna Barnes allow for the post-modern fluidity and explosion of sex and gender without finalizing either in a fixed form. Whereas the classical, archetypal androgyne is made up of two halves, one man and one woman; the deconstructed androgynous figure is not constituted of oppositional terms which would reflect an essential and unimpeachable truth. I reveal the way Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood not only thematizes the fluid androgyne, but also cleverly verbalizes David Wood’s perpetual and un-dischargable “debt” to extra-discursivity while poetically critiquing gender “appropriateness,” societal constraints, and the constitution of identity. Barnes presents a decentralized, ungrounded and non-prescribed world in Nightwood not only through her cross-dressing and androgynous characters, but also in her poetics, her assertion of the open-ended quality of language, and a strong imperative to negotiate our physical existence in a world of fluid gender and sexual boundaries.
Sepulveda, Maria C., "Centered Fluidity and the Horizons of Continuity in Djuna Barnes' Nightwood" (2012). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 746.