Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Christopher Hager


What could possibly be the relationship between Moby-Dick and the transgender experience? Where lies Moby-Dick’s utility in the context of literary queer theory? Does Moby-Dick have something useful to say to a transgender person? A possible answer is that Moby-Dick may lay a foundation to a specific intellectual process that parallels the transgender human condition. Realizing oneself as transgender necessitates an understanding of gendered norms, applying those norms to oneself, recognizing a dissatisfaction toward that application, and then navigating these norms in a more suitable way. It requires an unavoidable drive to subvert gender constructs despite its consequences. While Ishmael navigates this intellectual process, too, I prefer to focus on Ahab. Ahab negotiates a similar intrapersonal intelligence to the transgender person through a shared sense of agency, rebellion, and self-constructed destiny. Understanding this connection necessitates understanding Moby-Dick as redefining tautological expectations--a disruption that parallels the necessary redefinition of the transgender self. I mean not to imply that Melville had any foresight or insight into the phenomena. I do not consider Moby-Dick a story about transgender people by any definition. I consider it a story that may have something to say to transgender people navigating circumstances similar to my own.


Master's thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Master of Arts in English.