Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


French Studies

Reader 1

Anelle Curulla

Reader 2

France Lemoine


Claude Cahun was an artist and a leader who subverted social binaries by employing a non-determinable style. This intentional ambiguity is omnipresent in all of Cahun’s works, regardless of their style. To demonstrate this commonality, I will analyze her work of theatre, Heroines, five of Cahun’s self-portraits and her autobiography, Aveux Non Avenus. Although Cahun’s artistic mediums are very different respectively, all three of these works use a sense of artistic ambiguity to resist social binaries. Such techniques of indeterminacy include subversive rewritings of famous characters and self-portraits that use motifs such as masks and masquerade to subvert the gaze of the spectator. Additionally, her photomontages include a fleeing gaze, an obstructed gaze, and a gaze that confronts itself. In this thesis, I affirm that Cahun's methods are aligned with queer theory because the way that Cahun uses a queer identity in her works creates a form of political and social resistance against heteronormativity and homophobia. Therefore, I will show all of the ways that Cahun has used visibility as a Jewish gender neutral lesbian for social resistance.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.