This Independent Study Thesis examines the significance of the figure of the Other in literature and traces its nuances through philosophical analysis. The Other as I characterize her in this project is an individual who presents ambiguously to the world, who is opaque, and who, therefore, is rejected from groups she identifies with as a result of other aspects of herself contending with the “essences” of those fragmented groups. I aim to present how the absence of understanding the Other and “othering” devices used against the figure results in a perpetuation of a hierarchical monologic called, among other things, the logic of purity, which society has adopted as its standard. I engage with social philosopher María Lugones as well as literary theorist and scholar Edward Said to resist this logic and emphasize why decentering American society’s narrative from around an “idealized human being”—a white, Christian, bourgeois, heterosexual, cisgender male—is a task that scholars of philosophy and English have to recognize as integral to the continuation of the fields of study. More specifically, if they want to participate with ideas about the world, what we can know about the world, and how to think about those aspects of the world, their work cannot be continue to be confined to one set of ideals pertaining to one set of people, rendering all others deviant, “other-worldly,” or, simply, “Other.” I suggest that, when attempting to fight these oppressive forces that form the basis for othering attitudes, moral suasion is insufficient to change norms. Instead, I propose that insurrectionist ethics be a mode we as resisting agents move toward, and that this mode can be achieved through the acknowledgment of ambiguous, multiplicitous, othered bodies, as it leads to our understanding the diversity of experiences within groups. Interspersed throughout the project will be creative works in the forms of short meditations, short stories, and a novelette piece serving as phenomenological, internal explorations of the othered individual that dismantle images of the Other as exoticized, objectified, and mysterious and instead as a complex character who is dignified and disrupts standardized conventions of otherness.


Beutner, Katharine

Second Advisor

McBride, Lee A.


English; Philosophy


Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature | Philosophy


othering, other, the other, oppression, fiction, maria lugones, edward said

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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