Date

2016

Department or Program

English

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Sarah Wall-Randell

Additional Advisor(s)

Octavio González

Additional Advisor

Larry Rosenwald

Additional Advisor

Marianne Moore

Abstract

In my thesis, I have explored the role of whales in literature from Greco-Roman mythology to early English and American literature, including Shakespeare’s Pericles, Lyly’s Gallathea, and Melville’s Moby-Dick, as well as touched on some fiction of today. I pay particular attention to queer readings of these texts as well as to the role that gender plays in them. I argue that at this time in history, literature is the most definitive authority on the multifarious nature of whales. Whales are a powerful metaphor for politics on land, sexual predation, tyranny, and godliness. Because of their both terrifying and awe-inducing nature, whales are sublime.

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