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Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation by Iva Dimovska

Thursday, September 16, 2021, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

The Department of Gender Studies cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
by Iva Dimovska on:


Queer(ing) Time in Modernism

and How to Read it: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves


Defense committee:

Supervisor: Jasmina Lukic, CEU

External examiner: Madelyn Detloff, Miami University, US

Internal examiner: Eszter Timár, CEU

External reader: Ruben Borg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Chair: Sanjay Kumar, CEU


This dissertation traces the processes of queering time in two modernist novels: James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (1931). In doing so, it combines insights from modernist studies, narratology, and queer theory in developing a framework in which the functioning of queer time is seen as a thematic element and narrative factor in modernist texts. Looking at the ways in which queer time explores the connections between the interconnected processes of destabilizing subjectivity and deforming linear timelines, I propose that a closer look at the modernist practices of characterization can illuminate the potentials that arise from a dialogue between modernism and queer thought.

Or in other words, I argue that in Ulysses’ ‘Penelope’ and The Waves the notion of the stable subject/or character is destabilized through a reconceptualization of time through the power of the sexual, resulting in what I describe as the complexification of the present in the two texts. This dissertation looks closely at how queerness motivates the processes of expanding the “now” and resulting in two different, yet comparable characterization strategies.

In conclusion, in this dissertation I trace the manners in which modernist works reinvent the notion of subjectivity through questioning the power and potentials of individuality and collectivity – an idea that is one of the tenets of queer thought. Using queer theory’s apparatus in analyzing these modernist projects can shed some light on their ongoing currency. In turn, reading modernists through queer lenses, can also contribute to the development and enrichment of field of studies and thought such as queer theory, that owes plenty to the modernist legacy. The category of queer time I develop here serves as a bridge between the interest of these two fields of thought and study. Queer time, as a thematic element and a narrative factor, unveils both the modernist obsession with time and queer theory’s obsession with reinventing subjectivity, as deeply dependent on non-normative sexualities.