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Queer spellings: Magic and melancholy in fantasy-fiction

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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Author: Battis, Jes
This dissertation explores the connection between magic and melancholia in queer fantasy-fiction, looking broadly at what makes the entire fantasy genre in some fundamental sense “queer.” Synthesizing and applying psychoanalytical theories on mourning and melancholia from Sigmund Freud to Judith Butler, I examine how LGBT-identified characters within literary and visual media by Samuel Delany, Mercedes Lackey, Chaz Brenchley, Lynn Flewelling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joss Whedon, and others, negotiate their subjectivities and erotic lives through the melancholic incorporation and manipulation of supernatural forces. In so doing, I contend that fantasy, as a category of generic production and gender inscription, reveals an extremely provocative connection between queerness, mourning, and the supernatural. Arguing that magic and melancholia emerge from similar spaces of psychoanalytic “lack,” I position the linguistic and gestural acts of wizardry and spellcasting—the root of all fantastic formulations and fabulations—as performative acts designed to bridge an impossible gap in signification.
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