Willa Cather's O Pioneers!: Gender, Love, and Work on the Queer Prairie
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This thesis concerns Willa Cather‘s 1913 novel O Pioneers!, which revolves around a farming community on the Divide in the Western United States during the early twentieth century. The story primarily revolves around Alexandra Bergson, as she takes over her father‘s farm, learns to cultivate it, and interacts with the other farmers. This thesis reads O Pioneers! from the viewpoint of queer theory and queer ecology, in an attempt to uncover the ways in which the novel can be said to articulate a politics of queerness. This, then, is done by examining how the concepts of performativity and queer intimacy are represented. The main line of argument concerns the relationship between Alexandra and Frank, in which Frank functions as a foil character used to emphasize Alexandra‘s politics of queer (ecological) intimacy and care. Furthermore, this thesis also addresses the ways in which discourses that dictate gender and discourses that demarcate the natural world interact and cooperate to create the lived experience of the characters in O Pioneers!.