Electronic Thesis/Dissertation


The Queer God Pan and His Children: A Myth Reborn 1860-1917 Open Access

Downloadable Content

Download PDF

This dissertation traces a literary and cultural history of the ancient Greco-Roman god Pan, informed by queer theory, as the figure was reimagined in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I begin with an overview of Pan’s mythological origins, and the god’s appearances in ancient Greek and Roman literature and culture. I track the ways in which Pan was variously interpreted over the centuries, with an emphasis on the figure’s reception in English literature. The chapters that follow focus on English literary representations of Pan in the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Each chapter is thematically organized around the lifecycle of the god: Pan and the queer child; the mature, Anglicized Pan of “Deep England;” and the queer Gothic Pan, an apocalyptic god associated with death and the Christian Devil. The coda deals with Pan’s rebirth in the Edwardian magic revival movement. I examine works in a variety of genres, from poetry to children’s literature to Gothic horror. Authors studied include Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Algernon Swinburne, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Saki, Arthur Machen, Robert Louis Stevenson, and E. M. Forster. I argue that each of these writers adapts a queered and queering Pan, whose appearance in a work has disruptive, disorienting effects. Disorientation, as Sara Ahmed argues, forces a reorientation towards new, unexpected, queer possibilities. In the literature of this period, Pan opens a gateway to these disorienting possibilities, forever changing the English literary landscape.

Author Language Keyword Date created Type of Work Rights statement GW Unit Degree Advisor Committee Member(s) Persistent URL