“If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw”: performativity during childhood in Henry James’s 'The Turn of the Screw'
Keywords:queer literary criticism, Henry James's 'The turn of the screw', queer child, performativity in literary texts, repression
This paper aims at conducting a queer analysis of the figures of children in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and of their role in the story’s effect, in order to suggest a new possible interpretation of the novella and to explore the theme of performativity during childhood. Following Carmen Dell’Aversano’s proposal for a method of queer hermeneutics of literary texts, the paper problematizes some aspects of childhood as a social category, as it is represented in James’s text; it focuses on the concept of innocence and its implications, by linking it to Michael Billig’s idea of repression as a discursive practice that is learned since childhood; and, through these considerations, it addresses a crucial critical issue of the novella – the protagonists’ ambiguous obsession with the ghosts’ influence on her pupils, so severe that it possibly leads one of them to his death.
Whatever is an open access journal, which means that all articles are available on the Internet to all users immediately upon publication. Our articles are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence 4.0 by-nc, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial.
Authors hold copyright without restrictions. Also, authors retain publishing rights on their articles; however, it is recommended to keep track of the CC-BY-NC license and to quote original publication.