Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Claire Bracken

Second Advisor

Anastasia Pease




androgyny, texts, androgynous, authors, century


This paper will discuss the concept of androgyny in relation to four Western theorists, three literary texts and two schools of criticism. Androgyny is culturally controversial because it inherently disrupts normative ideas of sexual identity. In Western philosophy, especially in the twentieth century, sexual difference is insisted upon. In works from Sigmund Freud to Luce Irigaray, the space between male and female, masculine and feminine, is widened. These texts lie in contrast to Virginia Woolf‟s proposal of the androgynous mind in A Room of One‟s Own (1929). Only recently, with the emergence of Judith Butler‟s Gender Trouble, has androgyny again been considered a viable strategy in critical thinking. The deconstructive power of androgyny in literature is evident in three twentieth century texts: Woolf‟s Orlando (1928), Ursula Le Guin‟s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and Jeanette Winterson‟s The PowerBook (2000). These authors become unique in their choice to write androgynous novels and united in their overlap. From these works, androgyny can be understood as a literary device that fluidizes the hegemonic binaries of sex, gender and sexuality. Finally, for each of these women authors, androgyny becomes a strategy which facilitates the integration of feminism and queer theory.