Ellen Ricketts

Queer Devotions, Noble Perversions: Denying the Lesbian Body in Christopher St John's Hungerheart: The Story of a Soul

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Lesbian; Catholicism; Chivalry; Sublimation.

This essay discusses the little-known 1915 novel, "Hungerheart: The Story of a Soul" by Christopher St John ("née" Christabel Marshall). It analyses the dualism between the spiritual and the material as a means of sanctifying lesbian desire, and discusses the way in which this is mediated through the modes of courtly love and Catholicism, both of which serve as symbolic vehicles for the representation of an identity which was yet to be consolidated in the public imagination. In denying the embodied dimension of same-sex love, St John suffuses her text with a repressed eroticism, an eroticism which can be read back into the text through its queer perversion of Eucharistic and ascetic imagery. By drawing on recent developments in lesbian modernism as well as theoretical approaches which have opened up a critical dialogue about the place of queer desire in religious ritual, this paper seeks to turn attention to a much-neglected writer in order to explore the queer performativity of desire.

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