Englisches Seminar

Nathalie Walker (M.A.)


Englisches Seminar
Universität Tübingen
Wilhelmstraße 50
72074 Tübingen

Email: nathalie.walker[at]gmx.de

Academic Pathway

Ph.D. Project: “Configurations of the Female Closet: 1800-1930”

The closet is frequently seen as the most important metaphor for queer experience from the late nineteenth century onwards: it is “a spatial metaphor that conveys the denial, erasure and concealment of queer people, their desires and their sexual relations” (Brown). Its relevance for literary and cultural studies was first expressed in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s ground-breaking work Epistemology of the Closet(1990) in which she proposes that “many of the major nodes of thought and knowledge in twentieth century Western culture as a whole are structured – indeed fractured – by a chronic, now endemic crisis of homo/heterosexual definition, indicatively male, dating from the end of the nineteenth century”. For Sedgwick, the closet is inherently male and only comes into existence at the end of the nineteenth century, the era which Michel Foucault has defined as central in the development of a homosexual identity. In following Sedgwick, academic interest has been exclusively focused on the male closet. My thesis instead proposes that there is a female closet and that its roots lie in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the period which more recent scholars see as the cradle of a homosexual identity formation. By focusing on texts from, roughly, 1800 to 1930, the thesis will first prove that these texts delineate a female closet, and will then show the forms that such a female closet can take on. In doing so, the thesis will demonstrate that, in the nineteenth century, female closeted identity is not limited to expressions of homosexuality but instead revolves around various kinds of gender transgressions.

Fields of Academic Interests and Research