Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Eleanor McNees, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Tayana Hardin

Third Advisor

Eric Gould


Ekphrasis, Gesture, Joyce, Modernism, Performance, Woolf


This theoretical project seeks to introduce a new critical methodology for evaluating gesture - both represented in text and paratextual - in the works of Virginia Woolf - specifically The Voyage Out (1915), Orlando (1928), The Waves (1931), and Between the Acts (1941) - and James Joyce - particularly Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Though gesture studies has developed significantly as an interdisciplinary field in recent decades and performance studies has elaborated on the moving body's significance to both text and performance, literary scholarship itself has not yet adequately incorporated possibilities for specific critical attention to gesture. Gesture is defined here as: any movement of a body, human or nonhuman, which is carved in space and time and experienced (or has the capacity to be experienced) as an embodied, sensate phenomenon. Drawing on interdisciplinary theories of gesture - psychological, psycholinguistic, musicological, and anthropological - this study moves primarily toward a phenomenology of the moving body in Joyce and Woolf. Its five chapters address musical gestures, ritual gestures, language-gestures, adaptation/process gestures, and archival gestures. In order to emphasize the intermedial capacity of gesture, I consider gesture within the framework of gestural ekphrasis: the rendering of gesture - comprising quotidian lived gestures as well as gestural art forms - in another artistic medium and/or the gestures enacted by the artist as part of an ekphrastic process.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lauren Nicole Benke


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

430 p.


English literature