Lesbian Criticism and Feminist Criticism: Readings of Millenium Hall

Sally O’DriscollFairfield University
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring 2003), 57-80

This article uses a discussion of Sarah Scott’s 1762 novel A Description of Millenium Hall as a way to compare the effectiveness of tools offered by feminist theory and queer theory in elucidating the study of sexuality through literature. The article begins with a discussion of feminist and queer theory’s perspectives on gender and sexuality, and then moves to Millenium Hall for a practical interpretation. The novel has been a focus of feminist critics, who revived it from obscurity, yet some of that feminist criticism is heterocentric, discounting the possibility of lesbian erotic love in the novel. The article offers analysis of the novel itself and of specific interpretations, both feminist and queer. The article concludes that, for the purposes of literary interpretation, no single model can yet tell us enough about sexuality, only a combination of approaches produces a satisfying reading. The essay argues for a flexible, intersectional combination of feminist and queer approaches

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]