Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Queer literary interpretation

Queer literary interpretation is a method of literary interpretation stemming from Marxism, Feminism, and the gay rights movement. An addition to literary theory in the 1980s.

Only partially based on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, a queer literary interpretation is largely concerned with sexual identity, especially "closeted" (hidden) sexual identity. Other "closeted" aspects of works are often examined, as well.

There are opposing views of queer literary theory. One view is that sexual identity is "fixed", and may be discerned by careful study. The opposing view is that sexual identity is both fluid and socially constructed, and thus there is no "absolute" identity.

Questions that a queer literary interpretation might attempt to answer:

A traditional work of literature can be "queered" by applying this type of interpretation.


There are very few significant female characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The few females that are portrayed seem somewhat unrealistic, and are not given significant differentiation from the male characters. It almost seems as if Tolkien did not understand women well enough to write any female characters. The most common display of love in Lord of the Rings is a "brotherly love", such as the adoration of Sam for Frodo, and the growing friendship between Gimli and Legolas. From all this information, along with a few stories about Tolkien's relationship with C.S. Lewis, one might conclude that Tolkien was a closet homosexual, unwilling to reveal himself to the same hostile English society that persecuted so many other homosexuals, including Alan Turing.

Good works for queer literary interpretation: