Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Melamed, Jodi

Second Advisor

Ferguson, Roderick A.

Third Advisor

Blair, Amy L.


This dissertation situates 20th- and 21st-century American literary studies within a post-civil rights context that recognizes how narratives of U.S. exceptionalism have been employed in service of U.S. empire through the recognition of some groups of difference over others. I argue that always at each moment of inclusion, the nation-state invokes a rubric of militarized masculinity to ensure and expand its normative power, to increase legitimate violence, to gain new administrative capacities, and to advance U.S. economic and militaristic strength. My term militarized masculinity sounds out an ideology of exceptionalism that transcends the literal boundaries of military spaces and bodies to permeate the national public, valuing masculine aggression and disciplined, docile patriotism at once. “The View from Here” analyzes the terms of inclusion of difference at specific moments from the 1970s to the present through the works of writers who understand that state recognition means being folded into the state’s love of masculine violence and write against it. Thus, my dissertation generates a mode of critique from the epistemological position of the sissy figure. I contend that the qualities understood as sissy make up a resistant, antithetical node to state power through its disidentification with it. In its broader concerns, my work produces a mode of critique that is not universal but connected to its time. It foregrounds literature and cultural texts that do not or cannot assent to instances of racial, gendered, or sexual minority inclusion uncritically. Consequently, these works often are overlooked for inclusion in institutionalized multicultural settings including the university precisely because they give the lie to narratives of U.S. exceptionalism. Rather, I assemble an archive consisting of many forms—essay, poetry, novel, drama, film—by writers who are often queer of color and who speak to the limits of inclusion and imagine radical alternatives to it. This dissertation resituates literary value from its normative mode to the perspective of a sissy figure capable of illuminating and critiquing militarized masculinity as the nation-state’s rubric and its horizon and imagines otherwise.