Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Philip Harling


This thesis argues that British scholars Havelock Ellis, John Addington Symonds, and Edward Carpenter viewed themselves as somewhat rebellious, attempting to reconstruct norms of sexuality, particularly those concerning homosexuality. To do so, they invoked the well‐established constructions of class, gender, and sex. Nevertheless, in spite of their attempts problematize these constructions, they simultaneously worked within and reinforced them. Ellis, Carpenter and Symonds desired to change widelyheld perceptions of homosexuality and while doing so, alter notions of class, gender, and sex. These scholars asserted that homosexual relationships could exist across the divides of the class‐system, helping to engender a greater cross‐class understanding. Yet at the same time, Ellis, Carpenter, and Symonds created a dichotomy of “true” and “degenerate” homosexuality that was determined along class lines. Furthermore, all three men claimed that homosexuals represented a possible third sex that transcended male/female bodies and masculine/feminine gender roles. However, while making such challenges, these men also fortified conventional gender and sex norms in their discourse of sexual difference.