Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ruth Hoberman

Thesis Committee Member

Jeannie Ludlow

Thesis Committee Member

Christopher M. Wixson


Using Virginia Woolf's novels, The Voyage Out, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando, I begin to explore moments where the characters experience the sublime as defined by Edmund Burke. Woolf uses the traditional sublime, but complicates the concept beyond its initial intention. The moments that mimic the sublime, but include the body, the natural world, and artistic creativity grows into what I will call the "queer sublime," which is new for both Woolf scholarship and for the sublime. Woolf's experimentation with the term and part of the "queer sublime" also helps to create a different understanding of lesbian relationships and sexual pleasure than the prevalent ideas of day. Sexologists, such as Havelock Ellis, examine lesbians and their sex lives, but they remove the sexual body from their observations, and reinforce a Victorian understanding of heterosexual sex. Using the sublime as defined by Edmund Burke as a framework, the theories of Elizabeth Grosz as regards art and the natural world, Woolf's ultimate manifestation of the sublime is examined.