Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Romance Languages and Literature: French Language and Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In the Caribbean, same-sex desire is fraught with complexities, often hidden, and treated as a threat to cultural and moral values. In a region known for prolific literary production, few authors have portrayed same-sex relations, and when they do, discourses of silence, discrimination, and violence dominate. Bodies in Transgression examines how recent literary and historical texts explore the tensions of same-sex practices, while also looking at the broader context in which these practices acquire and maintain their visibility.

The corpus of novels and short fiction of Dany Laferrière, Kettly Mars, Ernest Pépin, Maryse Condé and Assotto Saint offers a sustained reflection on and diverse representations of same-sex encounters that dramatize the struggles and upheavals of same-sex sexuality within the specificity of the Caribbean. Drawing on feminist, queer, and postcolonial theory, this study explores how the narratives, intermingled with racial and sociocultural politics, complicate heteronormative sexuality in the Caribbean. The first chapter analyzes same-sex relations within the oppressive Duvalier regime, and invites us to rethink notions of masculinity, consent, and sexuality. The second chapter explores how same-sex encounters occur in a highly volatile environment where both women and men's honor are at stake and in which pain and pleasure become inseparable, much like the interlocking issues of race and class that often provoke these encounters. The third chapter examines the writings of Assotto Saint in a transnational and diasporic framework, and explores how Saint works within the stigma of being black and gay for political change in the homeland and at home. The fourth chapter focuses on the discovery of same-sex intimacy between women at the periphery of the male gaze, offering the possibility of a relationship between women who love women in the Caribbean. In examining the transgressive Caribbean body, this study contributes to a much needed discussion around the acceptance of non-normative sexualities in the Caribbean.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Seth Graebner

Committee Members

Julie Singer, Akiko Tsuchiya, Pascal Ifri, Carolyn Sargent


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