Date of Award

2019

First Advisor

Joan DelPlato

Second Advisor

Chris Coggins

Abstract

While individuals have been engaging in sexual encounters with those of the same sex for as long as civilization, it was not until the late nineteenth-century when same-sex interactions became associated with an identity, a culture, and a way of being through the naming of the homosexual. Much has been written to discover the origins of homosexuality, yet the ways in which the homosexual has come to take a distinct role in heterosexual society has often been ignored or greatly overlooked. Building on the theoretical research of queer theorists in the twentieth-century, the primary goal of this project is to historicize the development of the homosexual with specific attention to his relationship to both consumption and political ideology. The dandy, one of the most elusive figures born out of new urban environments in the nineteenth-century, arises as a key political figure whose aestheticization of the everyday is often seen as nothing more than a facade. However, a deeper look at the dandy and the ways in which he engages with capital and his own often homosexual identity reveals the potential for a much more nuanced reading of the dandy as a subversive, political figure. Starting with an understanding of how Victorian society sought to understand homosexuality, this project primarily traces and compares the bourgeois dandy, Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), with the working-class Dandy, Quentin Crisp (1908 - 1999). The revelation of a dandy who is not limited by the consumption of luxury goods is best explored through the examination of queer semiotics, and the physical ways in which the homosexual produces cultural meaning by subverting consumption in a way that fundamentally is against the object’s original use value. The homosexual can protest through consumption, but how?

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