Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English


College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Karem, Frederick

Subject Headings

American Literature, Comparative, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies, Literature


Although scholars have examined Mrs. Dalloway extensively in terms of gender performance, few critics of The Great Gatsby have explored Gatsby’s masculinity through gender studies. Using Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, I argue that Mrs. Dalloway and Gatsby represent both actors and directors rehearsing a new gendered identity of the twentieth century. Through their roles as staged performers, I emphasize how seemingly minute tasks connect to larger social and political stakes of memory, celebrity status, and reappraisals of gender identity. I further assert that while both Mrs. Dalloway and Nick Carraway experience revelations and heightened imagination through death, neither achieve non- heteronormative gender identities. Still, Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald draw upon their own image of the artist to playfully tease a new hybrid-femininity and masculinity of self-invention beyond the gilded cage.