Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

Jefferson Humphries


This dissertation proposes a close reading of Theophile Gautiers's Mademoiselle de Maupin. The purpose of this reading is to explore subjectivity by first assuming that it is a process, enacted by the protagonist's explorations of their own identities, but not an object contained in their elaborations. This view of subjectivity implies both the representational strategies of the protagonists, as well as the narrative strategies of the text. Since Mademoiselle de Maupin's narrative structure is so inconsistent and self-conscious, the explorations of self within the text draw attention to both the fiction of identity and the "identity" of fiction as a continually (re)enacted process (subjectivity). This conception of subjectivity builds on the collaborative works of Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. They describe subjectivity as a structural elusiveness which constantly (re)forms itself and which cannot reside in representation, or indeed in any one structure. This conception of subjectivity is the result of a re-evaluation of desire as a positive force visible only through the connections it makes and breaks. The structural elusiveness of Mademoiselle de Maupin manifests itself in a narrative and representational multiplicity. This multiplicity liberates the voices of the novel to the extent that they are free to question (enact) the ambiguities and uncertainties of structural (representational) identity. This query is then enlarged to embrace the uncertainties of the poetic project as it was being re-thought at the beginning of the nineteenth century.