Essay: Queer theory

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This segment consists of the information (statements) on what led the investigator to launch the study, presents the statement of the problem, the roof of the problem presented or how this problem starts and its causes, underlying factors on this particular study. This particular topic discussed in this study. Also, historical background will be given, facts have been relatively studied how this particular problem arises or how this particular problem starts. It ends up with the nature of the study which will help to comprehend the whole study.

1.2. Background of the study and Literature Review

Before considering a net explanation of historical back ground of the “queer theory”, a queer concept must be sepecified. Queer is a labyrinthical word that has been used in a multitude of ways and meanings to describe odd people and strange things. A number of exemplification are presented with the purpose of showing the differences aforementioned. As an adjective form of queer, is used for referring attracted to person of various genders, tough hegemon societies or cultures have difficulty in accepting genders apart from the male and female binary. There are also men, women and genderqueer people who is attracted by nonconforming people. In the same manner to the above, queer can be used as a label for noncorforming people who violating the social norms, do not fit into the social stigmas on account of their gender identity. Also queer is sometimes used as an umbrella term to address non heterosexuals comprising LGBT community which is marginalized in respect to sexual orientation. The word queer is included LGBTQ to talk about sexual orientation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer”. But still, queer is used for humiliating people especially has been used as a term of homophobic abuse.

Historical development process of arising concept “queer” has been gradually developed and derived from post-structuralist critical theory that emanated in the begining of 1990’s also affected feminist approaches by Judith Butler and influenced radical movements in US and Western European Societies, AIDS activism, gay and lesbian movements ACT UP, OutRage!

Fifty years beyond, the evolution of language and the various form of terms especially in the field of gender study has been clearly noticed that shifted and became wide. Strange and unaccustomed usage of gender and sexuality terms substitute for the conventional gender terms such as male and female or feminine and masculine. In this way many words loose their meanings and gradually fall out of touch and die out for better comprehension and interpretation, new terms ensue. Aforementioned the language diversity around gender and sexuality terms have been changing apace, a better understanding of the gender study requires eloquently definition of gender. The term of gender touches upon the significance or existence of character, emotion, consciousness, also in touch with biological sexes (male or female). Gender is a wide term that creates a coherence with culture:

The contents of gender stereotypes – the traits that are perceived as uniquely characteristic of women versus men – turn on the dimension of independence-interdependence. Men are stereotyped as independent, agentic, and goal oriented; women are stereotyped as interdependent, communal, and oriented toward others (Eagly & Steffen, 1984; Spence & Helmreich, 1978). These stereotypes affect important life outcomes such as hiring and promotion (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2004; Gorman, 2005; Heilman, 2001), job performance evaluations (Fuegen, Biernat, Haines, & Deaux, 2004; Heilman & Okimoto, 2007), academic performance (Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000), and even sexual harassment (Berdahl, 2007). The contents of gender stereotypes are accepted as pervasive and universal (Heilman, 2001), and are endorsed by both men and women (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007; Wood & Eagly, 2010) and across cultures (Williams & Best, 1990).
A gender theorist and one of the most sounding book’s Gender Trouble author Judith Butler whose fields gender study, feminism, queer and literary theory. Butler develops the theory of gender performativity and stands up to the traditional norms about sexes. Arguing in Gender Trouble, performances and sexes are each other’s subsidiaries, performativity such as acting and actions ground on gender and affect each other. Butler crystalises the gender matter with a term of “mute facticity” (GT: 129), as it is anaylsed gender mainstreaming producing the self-anticipation, but performativity is not a one time act it requires recurrency and ritual. In other words social norms represent our expectations (self-aniticipation) gender norms can be accepted as a subtopic of social norms and these are the behavioural expectations about a person’s sex. Social norms deal with the binary oppositions stereotypes as masculinity and femininity. Around the social norms, for instance a new born baby if it is male always wear blue dresses if it is female always wear pink dresses to continue with another exemplification girls playing dolls men like playing cars. These gender streotypes can not take male and female genders with social stigmas as straight. Butler resists these social stigmas and expectations about how people display a behaviour. In point of fact, the gender interpretation is an expectation and a some kind of certain performative actions that society and social stigmas produced. In Gender Trouble, all identities accepted as bodies are gendered from the very begining of their social existence just to clarify there is no natural body indissociably cultural expression. Gender is not something one is, it is something one does, an act, or more precisely, a sequence of acts, a verb rather than a noun, a “doing” rather than a “being” (GT: 25).
From the time of 1990’s the leading term queer has claimed its place in gender study globally. In as much as queer theory and gender study has been under the assumption of an indivisible whole. As a wide concept “queer” manifests to the normality between the genders commonly addresses the binary oppositions as base for instance male and female.

1.2.1. Literature Review

This chapter gives an extensive literature about a basic introduction to Queer Theory and the studies so far about the novels under consideration; the studies so far about Queer Theory used and the elaborated analysis of novels separately.

In the study of Sinekli Bakkal Romanın Cümle Türlerinin İncelenmesi Halide Ünsal tries to reflect both Halide Edib Adıvar’s life and her works and Sinekli Bakkal’s sentence structures. Ünsal prelude her thesis with the conditions of the period, the struggle period was shaped by one of the prominent women writer Halide Edip Adıvar’s Sinekli Bakkal novel. Sentence types were tried to be explained with examples from the novel. Only sentence types are emphasized while studying. The sentence examples are preceded by the number of pages, followed by the number of the line, with the longest number of lines in more than one line, indicated by the line number of the beginning. “In our thesis study one of the important works of Halide Edip Adıvar’ Sinekli Bakkal, was taken into consideration the author\’s use of the language. It is aimed that the sentence types used by Halide Edip Adıvar’s Sinekli Bakkal, which contains the best examples of Turkish sentence types, will be a source for Turkish teaching. In addition, by scanning different sources of linguistic information, classification of sentence types, aimed in this study.” (Ünsal, 2010) This thesis study consists of two parts. In the first part, Halide Edib Adıvar’s life, art and works are mentioned. The subject of the novel, place, time, and character analysis are briefly explained. Turkish sentence types are defined and explained, and examples of these sentences are given from the novel. The second part of the novel is the sentence analysis part, in the sense of the sentences analysis, the meaning of the sentences, structure of the sentences. Another study reflected Sinekli Bakkal is Eleştiri ile İdeal Arasında: Halide Edib’in Sinekli Bakkal Romanında ‘Din Adamı Kavramı’ Etrafında Bir Tartışma, Gürkan Yavaş argues that it is possible to see the traces of the thoughts of Halide Edib which has been partially or wholly changed. He has expressed in the voices of Turkey touching religion and the religious man (religious functionary) who have an important place, examples from the Sinekli Bakkal and from some texts apart from the novel. Halide Edip repeats the idea of creating a \’negative \’imam\’ muslim religious leader like Hacı İlhami Efendi in Sinekli Bakkal also Adıvar reveals the \’alternative religious leader\’ with Dervish Vehbi. Halide Edip, who started her novel by describing the neighborhood of Sinekli Bakkal, after describing the location Adıvar brings the word to İlhami Efendi, who is the imam of the local area at the same time. The author take a tougher line against the imam, is appeared from the very beginning of the novel. The following figure on the second page of the novel states in advance what kind of figure the reader will face during the novel:
The Imam himself was respected by a few and feared by all. He himself walked the humble black earth of the Sinekli-Bakkal with the awe-inspiring dignity and pride of a saint. But this saintly pride received a great blow when his daughter Emineh eloped with an actor. (Adıvar: Sinekli Bakkal, 6)
Halide Edip, who started her novel by introducing the heroes of the novel as a requirements of the traditional reflective novel style, also used this technique to introduce some heroes to the readers from their childhood as a panorama. Adıvar neglects Imam Ilhami Effendi’s childhood memories just touch upon in the first two or three pages, reports his strong clues about how he is a human being. After this point, the question of what kind of person Imam and how İlhami Efendi lost his charm.

“Who are you that you should make images?” cried the Imam, and his voice was tremulous with anger. He walked into the kitchen and threw the accursed thing into the smouldering wood fire under the cauldron in which the household linen was boiled-the day being a Tuesday, and therefore washing-day. What followed this was still more terrible. The Imam took her to his room, and producing a cane, a relic left from the days when he had been a school teacher, he caned her with official gravity. Although her little body was black and blue, and her face swollen with tears, he made her kneel and repeat prayers of repentance in Arabic until her throat ached. (Adıvar: Sinekli Bakkal, 18)

One of the dualities of the heterosexual world “gender differences” are narrowly related to physical and chemical differences that distinguish between male and female bodies. Physical differences are related to the external appearance of the body; chemical differences establish the internal balance of the body as a whole, with this understanding, nature divides human into two different beings by means of biophysics and biochemistry determinations, and it has a purpose in doing so. This is the purpose of people to continue their lineage. Social existence is also considered as a secondary expression of this nature; it is accepted that heteronormativity is the only sexual orientation. “Gender” is a concept that states roles are socially structured which indicates “differences” based on dual oppositions between men and women not based on inherent or not essentially inherent (innate), but are socially produced and established. Feminism has questioned the assumptions of this narrow understanding through the concept of “gender” in order to break the chains of women. On the other hand queer theory radicalizes this questioning and feminism has forced it out of being a heteronormatic discourse. However, within the scope of gender, “femininity” and “masculinity” are not measured up for sexuality. Gender has been found to be inadequate to clarify certain situations therefore queer theory has been introduced and has become a huge theory that collects all sexual orientations under the umbrella term. Nowadays, homosexuality, gayness, lesbianism, trance states have opportunity to express as “sexual orientation” and not “sexual identity” anymore. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people has been straddle in the scope of gender also since 1990s has also been debated. Although queer theory is identified with LGBTI’s, it does not merely refer to this issue. Queer theory has significant influence on absorbed the concept of all discrimination and intolerance. Queer theory emerged from feminism, and it is known that derived from Butler’s feminist critique. Butler has criticized three philosophically important thinkers of feminist theory since the late 1980s: Simone de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray. (Direk, Zeynep) These criticisms constitute the back ground of Butler\’s most known work is Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, published in 1991, which argues for gender performativity.
“This means that gender is not an essential category. The repetitious performances of “male” and “female” in accordance with social normsreifies the categories, creating the appearance of a naturalized and essential binary. Gender is never a stable descriptor of an individual, but an individual is always “doing” gender, performing or deviating from the socially accepted performance of gender stereotypes. “ (Boundless, The Social Construction of Gender)

According to Butler, inspired from Foucault and Derrida, gender and sexuality are performance-based actions, not innate identities. Butler texts are considered to be the basic texts of queer, so when the word \’queer\’ is mentioned, it comes to mind first Butler\’s \’Gender Trouble\’. It is claimed that Butler was intensely influenced by Foucault. In this context, it would be a deficiency to pass through some correlations between the thought of Butler and the thought of Foucault without looking at the topic of \’Foucault and Queer\’. It is possible to say that the theoretical roadmap trying to adapt the Queer Theory is inspired by important feature of Michel Foucault\’s work. Foucault’s History of Sexuality refers sexuality is not an incentive for struggling for freedom against the power. It is a reflection that plays a large part in the process of a new forming of power and comprises one of the cornerstones of Judith Butler and other queer theorists who follow her. According to these theoreticians, the concept of “(biological) gender” assumed to exist in a biological “self” is actually in this formation, by extension the normalcy (nature) of the “biological body” must be questioned. It means that the continuity assumed to be between gender, gender, and sexual orientation/desire is also questioned. (Bilisim, 2017) Butler argues that gender is the performative influence of the individual as an authentic identity. Performativity is not a one-time act, it is recurrence and ritual. To make it clear her own statement in Gender Trouble she says: the body is not a “mute facticity” (129) Butler has been putting emphasis on discourse anaylsis and has defended an opinion of gender is produced by discourses. Butler philosophise gender is constructed in cultural sites (background) rather than its existence. Differentiation of sex and gender term, there is no natural body that prior to its cultural inscriptions, all bodies are gendered from the very beginning of their social existence. The concept of gender can not be explain the sexuality under the consideration of male or female. It is a concept that shows an act or demonstrates how is it perfomed. Gender is not to define or characterize the gender’s sexuality its purpose to act and perform. Butler accentuates this differentiation in the first chapter of Gender Trouble:
“Gender is the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being. A political genealogy of gender ontologies, if it is successful, will deconstruct the substantive appearance of gender into its constitutive acts and locate and account for those acts within the compulsory frames set by the various forces that police the social appearance of gender. (SALIH, 2006) Butler also proves her arguments with the quotation belongs to Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morals that “there is no ‘being’ behind doing, acting, becoming; ‘the doer’ is merely a fiction imposed on the doing—the doing itself is everything” (1887: 29), before adding her own gendered corollary to his formulation: “there is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results” (GT: 25).
Whether it is queer theory, or Foucault thought, In both approaches, there is an oppositional attitude towards the \’normalizing\’ and consequently the secular understanding. On the other hand, it can be argued that Foucault thought plays a catalyst for the development of queer theory (Spargo, 1999). As a result, Foucault\’s works are the source of many works which constitute the Butler thought (Direk, 2012) and queer theory corpus, in which queer theory is greatly used by feminism criticism.
Michel Foucault pays special attention to the period in which emerged the medicalisation of the various sexual practices that were once considered normal. These various forms of sexuality are roughly placed under the title of homosexuality 4 as an illness at the very emergence of the industrial society, which based itself on the formation of family to provide workers for factories. At this period such ‘abnormal’ feelings, intentions and practices were encouraged to be confessed to form a knowledge of the ‘perverse’ sexual acts and then to diffuse the discourses that condemn such ‘perversities’. These discourses operate like language as they are made of language. Both oppress and regulate the various bodily senses and desires. (Matosoğlu, 2015)
Butler (2008) argues that Foucault\’s thought that identity is not pre-established and fixed, and that Foucault\’s thought is not pre-determined and constant, is in a state of being, is objectified through certain technologies of the self, is objectified and that the analysis of the situation at a certain moment in history is the point There is parallelism. The queer debates that Butler\’s exclusion of identities are in fact based on Foucault\’s definition of the subject (“The subject has two meanings: subject and conscience subject to someone else through supervision and dependence, or subject bound to self identity through self-knowledge”) The influence of a power relations in the formation of the essence, and perhaps we should be alert at any moment that such a danger exists at any moment. Because, according to Butler (2008), the subjects are created through exclusive practices that have some legitimizing aims. According to Foucault (2014), subjectivities are created by people using certain techniques and under the influence of certain powers. In fact, what we call subjectivity is an objectification process, because it is a dependent and guided self-production (Foucault, 2014). The view that Butler claims to be imitating heterosexuality has a certain relationship with this idea: The \’truth\’ of heterosexual identities is constructed performatively through an imitation that establishes itself as the origin and foundation of all imitations. In other words, heterosexuality is always imitating and your imaginary idealization is in the process – and unsuccessful. The reason for this is absolutely unsuccessful, and it is still struggling to be successful, and the heterosexual identity project is pushing itself towards repeating itself without end. (McRuer, quoted by Butler, 2013)
“Judith Butler’s linguistic theory about performativity greatly touched on Gender Trouble: [w]ithin the inherited discourse of the metaphysics of substance,
gender proves to be performative, that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be”
(GT: 24–5). “A phenomenological tactic to the query of sex, that treats maleness and femaleness not [as applying] ascriptively to males and women, however, like alternative methods, open to either males or females, of mortal entities offering themself as whoever they are, is taken by the Australian thinker, Michael Eldred. \’Feminine\’ being is then thought as an \’interstitial\’ manner of experience amid you-and me […] compared to displaying [masculinely] who one is in self-presentation.” (Eldred, Metaphysics of Feminism: On Judith Butler).
According to Andrew Butler (2011: 98), the author of the article “Queer Theory,” the word \'[q] ueer\’ refers to all forms of sexuality, rather than heterosexual: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and others. Until the 1980s, this word, basically containing negative associations, became a collective identity, resistance and even a symbol of honor even in political movements. So the word queer has evolved from a negative standpoint to a positive and well accepted sense. In addition to Andrew Butler, the question of how the concept of queer is addressed and other authorities deal with the queer concept draws attention to the numerousness common points in the definition of queer. For example, in the article entitled “Giriş: Queer Tahayyül” according to Sibel Yardımcı and Özlem Güçlü (2013: 17) “[Q] comes to mean strange, odd, bizarre in Turkish” and “in the center of queer theory being strange, abnormal, odd, bizarre, keeping out of the normative scope; excluded from this scope; a reference that violates the norm and creates an opportunity for re-interpretation of abnormal”. Therefore, “It is a ordered with negative meanings considered both as a movement and as a name for a theory even itself can be read as a sign of this reconsideration effort ” (Yardımcı ve Güçlü, 2013: 17). According to Hugh Stevens (2011: 110), who draws attention to the terms “normality and queerness in gay fiction” in his article ” Gay and Lesbian Literature”, in the book Since the early 1990s,”Queer ” has become a popular category in American lesbian and gay politics and academics, but there is a long history in the lesbian and gay culture that the conflicts pointed out by the term and with it, the term of “queer” is starting to use to describe themselves as lesbian and gay. This shows that Queer Theory has included gays and lesbians in their own world and addressed wider masses with a holistic view.
According to Carolyn G. Heilbrun (1981: 16) who wrote up the article “Virginia Woolf in Her Fifties,” Virginia\’s love affair with Vita Sackville-West made her understand [Virginia\’s] love for women. Virginia Woolf, a lesbian herself, has addressed sexual preferences and experiences exclusive norms in Orlando. Therefore, this work can be regarded as an important source in terms of Queer Theory. Among all Virginia Woolf\’s novels, Orlando, which is the closest novel to sexual or rather homosexual feelings, because the hero has transformed physically here. Initially a flashy teen, then the beauty is reflected, but the psychological transformation has not been completed. The young has been aware of his sexuality at the very beginning. When he wears a petticoat, he becomes not only a woman, but also a man who likes to be a woman. At the same time Orlando is Virginia\’s most idealized creation; this hero has been designed in the most appropriate way to the heart of Virginia Woolf. This work clearly states that Virginia\’s perspective on lesbian love and sexuality. (Harnuboğlu, n.d. 54-58)
“Legs, hands, carriage, were a boy’s, but no boy ever had a mouth like that; no boy had those breasts; no boy had eyes which looked as if they had been fished from the bottom of the sea.” (Woolf, Orlando:19)
“We may take advantage of this pause in the narrative to make certain statements. Orlando had become a woman — there is no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been. The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity. Their faces remained, as their portraits prove, practically the same. His memory — but in future we must, for convention’s sake, say ‘her’ for ‘his,’ and ‘she’ for ‘he’— her memory then, went back through all the events of her past life without encountering any obstacle. Some slight haziness there may have been, as if a few dark drops had fallen into the clear pool of memory; certain things had become a little dimmed; but that was all. The change seemed to have been accomplished painlessly and completely and in such a way that Orlando herself showed no surprise at it. Many people, taking this into account, and holding that such a change of sex is against nature, have been at great pains to prove (1) that Orlando had always been a woman, (2) that Orlando is at this moment a man.” (Woolf, Orlando: 79)
It turns out that Orlando married a gypsy because the marriage certificate was found in the room. Orlando did not wake up, even though seven days passed and there was a rebellion again. On the contrary, he sleeps in his room. On the seventh day Orlando wakes up but “she is a woman”. A woman\’s grace has been integrated into the power of a man in Orlando while Orlando looking up and down himself at the same time showing no signs of panic, and he went to the bathroom. … Orlando became a woman. In other words, up until his thirties Orlando was a man; he became a woman in this age, and that is what happened today. This is one of the most important points of the book because Orlando became Lady Orlando anymore and experienced next adventures as a women. Speaking of the difficulties of being a woman, the pressures on women of the Victorian era, the difficulties of being a woman, from the pressures of the Victorian period on women, and Orlando has indeed underlined how 19th-century women are under the control and pressure. Unlawful behavior for men is prohibited after being a woman. This is also very important in terms of suppression over women.
“That is the view of some philosophers and wise ones, but on the whole, we incline to another. The difference between the sexes is, happily, one of great profundity. Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath. It was a change in Orlando herself that dictated her choice of a woman’s dress and of a woman’s sex. And perhaps in this she was only expressing rather more openly than usual — openness indeed was the soul of her nature — something that happens to most people without being thus plainly expressed. For here again, we come to a dilemma. Different though the sexes are, they intermix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above. Of the complications and confusions which thus result everyone has had experience; but here we leave the general question and note only the odd effect it had in the particular case of Orlando herself.” ( Woolf, Orlando: 109)
Orlando, who became accustomed to being a woman, when he walks with women\’s clothes whenever he wants to, he has also masqueraded the men\’s sack at different times of the day. Thus, Orlando has benefited from both genders advantages and lived his life as freely as he can. However, the 19th century Victorian period is a time of marriage, marriage is important. Lady Orlando feels herself under pressure in this context and ultimately has to think of the most desperate of the solutions, that is to say, in a spirit of the age, to surrender all in a mild manner and to get to a husband. However, the thing Lady Orlando wanted was not a husband, it was a love that she wanted. After a certain period of time, the outcome of the case has been explained and Orlando’s Turkish marriage regarded as invalid. Also Orlando\’s gender has been accepted as “female”, and the children were judged illegitimate. This is a very important point because it shows that the “queer” struggle of Orlando is concluded. Virginia Woolf shows a viewpoint that can be adapted to the logic and subordination of Queer Theory with the thought that the woman and man should be free. Therefore, the collective contribution of Woolf, who has signed masterpieces, becomes even clearer. To sum up, Virginia Woolf has made a steady place in the history of literature.
Cuddy, Amy JC, Jihye Chong, and Michael I. Norton. “Men as cultural ideals: how culture Shapes gender stereotypes.” (2010).
Salih, Sara. Judith Butler, edited by Sara Salih, Taylor and Francis, 2002. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Boundless. “The Social Construction of Gender – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. Boundless, 26 May 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
Butler, Judith (1990; Anniversary edition 1999) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge.
Salih, S. (2006). On Judith Butler and Performativity. 1st ed. [ebook] p.55. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].
Nietzsche, Friedrich [1887] On the Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral), trans. Douglas Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Eldred, Michael. “Metaphysics of Feminism:.” Metaphysics of Feminism: On Judith Butler (Michael Eldred). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Bilisim, R. (2017). Ne O! Ne Bu! Ne Şu! Queer Kuramı ve Kimliksizleşme | E-Dergi, Sanat Tarihi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2017].
Matosoğlu, A. (2015). DECONSTRUCTING THE HOMONORMATIVE: QUEER MALE IDENTITIES IN THE NOVEL FROM THE 1960’S TO THE POST-MILLENIUM. 1st ed. [ebook] İstanbul, pp.3-4. Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2017].
Harnuboğlu, M. (n.d.). Heteronormatif Düzlem ile Queer Düzlem Arasındaki İkilem: Virginia Woolf’un Eseri Orlando: Yaşamöyküsü Üzerine Bir Değerlendirme. Kaos GL, [online] (138), pp.54-58. Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2017].
Woolf, V. (1928). Orlando. 1st ed. pp.6, 19, 79, 109.
Adıvar, H. (1935). The Clown and His Daughter. 1st ed. Great Britain: George Allen & Unwin.

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