Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Johnny Lorenz

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka


In Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H. the protagonist experiences a complete break from reality when she enters her maid’s room and encounters a cockroach. The entire plot is predicated on this encounter, but the existential crisis is filtered through a quest for a resounding silence – one that will liberate G.H. from the shackles of a preorganized existence. This thesis will explore Clarice Lispector’s use of silence as it functions in relation to a repurposed posthuman theory. By investigating Lispector’s preoccupation with the “thingness” of being, I expose the limitations of postmodern feminism and offer a way out of binary thought by moving through Lispectorian silence. To value the silence, we must first recognize the posthuman undercurrent of The Passion According to G.H. to cut against the traditional feminist appraisal of Lispector’s text. Lispector’s narrative is a work of feminism through the ways in which it confronts the uncomfortable and self-referential maze of existence to encourage a reevaluation of feminist essentialism – we can even look at the text as a work of posthuman feminism. The question then stands: How does Clarice Lispector utilize moments of silence in the novel The Passion According to G.H. for the sake of establishing a language beyond the binaries that drive past feminist theories and how can silence become a space of liberation if apprehending Lispector’s text as a post-humanistic ethos? First, we will analyze Lispector’s use of silence as language fails to capture a truth beyond the accretions of humanity. Then, we look at Lispector’s use of silence as it incites questions about the figurations of what counts as a subject, moving beyond classifications of gender identity and sexuality, and incorporating the strange, the abject, the insane, the inhuman and beyond. Finally, we look at Lispector’s use of silence to evaluate liminal spaces that reveal a new way of looking at the posthuman condition. Whereas many post-humanists reject the anthropomorphized being, I argue that Clarice Lispector is intimating an interconnectedness that upholds human differences with the intention that we relinquish the categories and social forces that we use to build the human form.

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