Surveillance and male sexuality: the rhetoric of the office in American literature

Thompson, G.W., 2000. Surveillance and male sexuality: the rhetoric of the office in American literature. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

10183520.pdf - Published version

Download (41MB) | Preview


This thesis is a study of heterosexual male representations of office culture in American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Because of its organizational centrality to the capitalism that, according to Michel Foucault, drives the development of disciplinary society, the office needs to be considered as a surveilling regime. It is an environment that institutes codes of visibility that in turn produce a corresponding regime of self-surveillance. Office-workers are not only watched, but also come to monitor themselves and their own behaviour in the workplace. The work of Eve Sedgwick's Between Men (1985) suggests how the office and die male-male relations within it might be placed in the context of what she describes as male homosocial desire and which includes within it homosexuality, heterosexuality, and homophobia. The relationship between these categories will be historically contingent, and will mark the acceptable structures of men's relations with other men. Lee Edelman's Homographesis (1994) refines the relationship between surveillance and male sexuality. Edelman argues that since the eighteenth century, while the heterosexual male body is assumed to be natural and normal, the homosexual male body is constantly forced to offer up its own visibility to be read by others. Contradictorily, however, die homosexual male body must also defy this burden of visibility so that it may 'pass' and thus be sought out and marked all die more vigorously. This continual vigilance carries consequences for all male bodies since they must constantly position themselves in relation to the markers that signify the homosexual male body. It is at the level of this vigilance that die office and male sexuality are drawn together. The thesis argues that the surveillance found in the office is actually a sophisticated form of reading that works to police the boundaries between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Thompson, G.W.
Date: 2000
ISBN: 9781369316841
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 30 Sep 2020 14:51
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2023 15:04

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year