Faith, fairies, and floozies: deconstructing God, sex, and gender in fantasy

Driggers, Taylor (2020) Faith, fairies, and floozies: deconstructing God, sex, and gender in fantasy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis argues that fantasy literature carries unexplored potential for articulating queer and feminist theologies and religious imaginaries. Adopting a deconstructive methodology within a Christian theological framework, it posits that fantasy texts can serve as fictional spaces in which theology can be reimagined, and potentially transformed, from queer and feminist standpoints. My argument considers fantasy as a genre with potential not only for communicating religious doctrines, but also for interrogating them, holding them to account, and transforming them. Throughout, the novels Till We Have Faces (1956) by C.S. Lewis, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) by Ursula K. Le Guin, and The Passion of New Eve (1977) by Angela Carter serve as close reading case studies, with intermittent discussion of other fantasy texts.
Chapter One of this thesis, ‘Saving Face?’, elaborates a theory of fantasy as a deconstructive opening toward the other in theology, examining existing theories of fantasy in relation to the deconstructive philosophy of Jacques Derrida and the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Chapter Two, ‘Dragons in the Neighbourhood’, carries this discussion of alterity into an exploration of the relationship between fantasy and the concept of écriture feminine (feminine writing) developed by Hélène Cixous, considering the extent to which fantasy can be read as a disruptive counter-discourse to theology. Meanwhile, Chapter Three, ‘Hetero-doxies’, initiates a much more ambivalent engagement with Luce Irigaray’s quest for a feminine incarnation of the divine. While Irigaray’s project is indispensable for re-visioning the sexual and gendered nature of Christianity’s theological imagination, it also shores up the difficulty of creating an alternative imaginary without re-inscribing patriarchal exclusions and hierarchies. These discussions open onto the further horizon of queer theology and fantasy. Chapter Four, ‘Theology in Drag(ons)’, draws on the queer theologies of Marcella Althaus-Reid and Linn Marie Tonstad, as well as queer theories elaborated by Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam, to suggest that fantasy literature is theology dressed in drag.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Fantasy, fantasy literature, religion, theology, queer, feminism, feminist, feminist theology, queer theology, queer theory, feminist theory, deconstruction, post-structuralism, C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Angela Carter, Derrida, drag, gender studies, Christian theology, Christianity
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Dick, Dr. Maria-Daniella
Date of Award: 2020
Embargo Date: 27 March 2025
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-80294
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2020 14:21
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 10:38
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.80294

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