Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Comparative Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation studies the interaction of the "center" of the world republic of letters (France) and one small (peripheral) literary culture (Latvia). It analyzes this process from the perspective of the periphery. Interrogating the first half of the twentieth century, notably the interwar period, the project contributes to debates of World Literature, Queer Studies, and the New Modernist Studies. Small literature is a place where gendering and racializing images of the self and others are created based on the logic of cultural and aesthetic backwardness and a dependence on more significant players in the literary field, in this case French authors. Ethnicity and sexuality become fields where different norms are established, policed, and transgressed. Engaging with such transgressions, Latvian leftist writers of the interwar period subjected themselves to criticism, censorship, or reticence. As the reception of their work testifies, ethnic and national issues perceived as transgressive become racialized (the transgressor becomes "less-white" or Orientalized), while transgressive gender and sexual behavior mark the agent as queer. My analysis of these works shows that racialized subjects and queered subjects often become interchangeable: deviant sexuality and gender are explained by racial difference, while ethnic and national others are imagined as having non-normative sexuality.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Anca Parvulescu

Committee Members

Anca Parvulescu, Lynne Tatlock, Vincent Sherry, Melanie Micir,

Available for download on Saturday, December 21, 2047