Week 6: Olga Akroyd, ‘Saints, Spies, Celibates: The Erotic Ambiguity of the Revolutionary Hero’

Join us next Wednesday, 5th June, at 5pm at the Rothermere American Institute to discuss Olga Akroyd’s paper on the literary figure of the American Revolutionary hero, with specific reference to the works of Herman Melville and James Fenimore Cooper.

“The iconography of the American revolutionary hero up to the present moment,” she writes, “has been conventionally regarded through a heterosexual prism, and frequently employed in discussions concerning the topic of white masculinity and celibacy. The aim of my paper, however, is to challenge this vision – discussing the presence and effect of queerness and sexual ambiguity on the portrayal of the fictional male heroes of the American Revolution.”

Olga Akroyd is a final-year PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Kent, working towards a thesis on the representation of the exceptionalist discourse in the novels of Herman Melville and F. Dostoevsky. Before coming to Kent, she studied at Queen Mary, University of London, and St Antony’s College, Oxford. Her research interests (in no particular order) include the antebellum era, presidential philosophy and the interplay of law and literature. Being bilingual in English and Russian, she also often works with the comparative aspects of American and Russian history and culture.

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