Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English and Writing Studies



First Reader/Committee Chair

Pak, Yumi.


Often portrayed as static, and neutral, “space,” as it is used in this paper, refers to a literary conception, one which encompasses a sphere of locations as well as settings of events, characters, and objects within a literary narrative. Much to our detriment, humans are often compelled to codify and compartmentalize the world around us, using perceived differences as our epistemological touchstone. This phenomenon extends even to our relationship to space. In examining the interplay between space, geographies, genre, and gender, using two objects of analysis, this paper seeks to further the current scholarship on how gender ideology informs our perception of space and, conversely, how space structures our perception of gender, establishing how spatialization not only dictates access, movement, and status within a community but also how we perceive those who must negotiate these geographies

I argue that spaces are neither static nor neutral but are instead constructs continuously being formed via our perceptions and interactions with them. In fact, by juxtaposing my two objects of analysis, Harlon Ellison’s short story “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” and the film Westward the Women (1951), and how they present two different forms of space—the western frontier versus the urban city—I aim to illustrate the arbitrariness of these spatial constructions. Instead of being diametrically opposite constructions, two different spaces presented in different texts and genres can be unified and shaped based on how we perceive them in our minds. And in demonstrating the arbitrariness of spatial construction, I intend to illustrate the harm that the belief in the naturalized and neutral constructions of space can have in larger societal terms.