Diversity or Perversity? Investigating Queer Narratives, Resistance, and Representation in Aotearoa / New Zealand, 1948-2000
Burke, C. J. F. (2007). Diversity or Perversity? Investigating Queer Narratives, Resistance, and Representation in Aotearoa / New Zealand, 1948-2000 (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2245
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2245
This thesis contributes to the burgeoning field of the history of sexuality in New Zealand and seeks to distill the more theorised and reflexive understanding of the subjectively understood queer male identity since 1948. Emerging from the disciplines of History and English, this project draws from a range of narratological materials: parliamentary debates contained in Hansard, and novels and short stories written by men with publicly avowed queer identities. This thesis explores how both 'normative' identity and the category of 'the homosexual' were constructed and mobilised in the public domain, in this case, the House of Representatives. It shows that members of the House have engaged with an extensive tradition of defining and excluding; a process by which state and public discourses have constructed largely unified, negative and othering narratives of 'the homosexual'. This constitutes an overarching narrative of queer experience which, until the mid-1990s, excluded queer subjects from its construction. At the same time, fictional narratives offer an adjacent body of knowledge and thought for queer men and women. This thesis posits literature's position as an important and productive space for queer resistance and critique. Such texts typically engage with and subvert 'dominant' or 'normative' understandings of sexuality and disturb efforts to apprehend precise or linear histories of 'gay liberation' and 'gay consciousness'. Drawing from the works of Frank Sargeson, James Courage, Bill Pearson, Noel Virtue, Stevan Eldred-Grigg, and Peter Wells, this thesis argues for a revaluing of fictional narratives as active texts from which historians can construct a matrix of cultural experience, while allowing for, and explaining, the determining role such narratives play in the discursively constructed understandings of gender and sexuality in New Zealand.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses