"Not exactly as a boy" : A Study of Queer Gender Performances, Cross-dressing, and Love Between Women in Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: This study consists of an analysis of the novel Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, in terms of cross-dressing as self-representation. The study aims to emphasise how cross-dressing can be significant when expressing one’s gender identity, by examining the gender identity and sexual orientation of the male impersonator Nancy Astley/Nan King and how she reacts to her own queerness. With the use of queer literary theory, Judith Butler’s theories on gender performativity, and ideas of gender as social constructs, this study argues that the novel is a powerful representation of the fluidity and inconsistency of gender and the non-existence of the gender binary. Throughout the novel, the main character disrupts the expected gender roles of the British Victorian era, and through the use of cross-dressing, uses masculinity and masculine femininity to discover and express her gender identity.

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