A Stranger Among Those Who Are Still Men: Reading Monsters as Performing Transgender Identities in Four Short Stories by H. P. Lovecraft

Author

Summary, in English

In his book Skin Shows, Jack Halberstam posits that depictions of monsterhood in horror media
can be directly comparable to different socially constructed identities, such as gender, and even
transgender. But can such a comparison be made in a text regardless of its author’s biases and
intentions? The purpose of this essay is to find out how the monsters in four of H. P. Lovecraft’s
short stories can be read as performing transgender identities. In order to do this, I employ
theories of identity performativity, queer readings, queer coding, and Halberstam’s ideas on
monsterhood and gender and adapt them into a transgender theoretical framework. Using these
theories, this essay argues for a link between the way the monstrous characters in “The
Outsider”, “Cool Air”, “The Dunwich Horror”, and “The Thing on the Doorstep” perform
mind-body dissonance, social tension, and bodily transformation in a way evocative of
transgender identity expressions.

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Supervisor

  • Claes Lindskog