Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Katherine Walker

Second Committee Member

Kaitlin Clinnin

Third Committee Member

Vincent Perez

Fourth Committee Member

Timothy Erwin

Fifth Committee Member

Margaret Harp

Number of Pages



As Ovidian myth is a central influence on queer stories throughout time, I am interested in how the female/sapphic gaze impacts the retellings of these narratives. In this thesis, I analyze the action of the gaze as an expression of desire and discuss its multiple meanings in both text and performance. Through tracing the gaze within the queer/sapphic narratives of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I show that the gaze is an intersecting act through which non-normative desire is conveyed. In constructing the gaze as an ephemeral action of queer desire in practice, I also argue that it maintains a resonance within queer narratives throughout time, creating a historical account of non-normative attraction. Gaze captures both the passion and loss within love through informing the memory of the gazer. In the context of queer temporality, the memory of love transcends the inevitable loss that accompanies queer pasts in its refusal to be limited by straight notions of time. As the gaze operates against the traditional language of courtship, it creates sites of queer cultural memory through which the non-normative attraction is preserved. In tracing Ovidian narrative through its temporal transformation into queer culture, we see how the language of sexuality and desire transitions for the purpose of communicating unconventional acts of desire in coded/obscured ways.


desire; gaze; queer


Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Psychiatric and Mental Health

File Format


File Size

759 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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