Unhappy Endings: Queer Time in Evelyn Waugh’s

Unhappy Endings: Queer Time in Evelyn Waugh’s "Brideshead Revisited"



Caitlin Grace Spicer


Presentation: 1:40-2:00, Kennedy Union 222



This thesis examines Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 Catholic novel, "Brideshead Revisited", through the lens of queer theory. My work focuses on reproductive heteronormativity and queer time and how these concepts can be used to analyze Waugh’s text. I argue that Sebastian, among other characters, steps out of the traditional—or heterosexual—timeline in a way that queers temporality. I examine Sebastian to understand how his lonely yet holy life contributes to a larger tradition of unhappy endings in queer and Catholic fiction. In this thesis, I define reproductive heteronormativity as the assumption that people will follow a heterosexual and reproductive lifestyle. This lifestyle is often associated with the common timeline of finding a job, dating someone of the opposite sex, getting engaged and then married, having children, buying a house, retiring happily, and so on. Following theorists like Jack Halberstam, Sara Ahmed, and Hil Malatino, I define queer time as the failure to replicate the timeline of reproductive heteronormativity. I utilize Ahmed’s definition of happiness, in particular, to revalue Sebastian’s sad story in Waugh’s queer and Catholic novel. Ultimately, my thesis aims to bridge the gap between queerness and Catholicism, creating a space for inclusion and the opportunity to celebrate the unhappy ending.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

David J. Fine

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Unhappy Endings: Queer Time in Evelyn Waugh’s