Ungendered Narrative: A New Genre in the Making

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Department of English, NTNU


This paper focuses on ungendered narrative with reference to select fictional works, to shed light on the elements that define the genre. One or more characters with an undisclosed gender are the focal point of the narrative. The paper discusses techniques that authors employ to keep gender hidden, such as employing inventive gender-neutral pronouns or not using them at all. First- and second-person points of view are also common modes of narration, as “I” and “you” are gender-neutral. In depicting characters, authors consciously merge masculine and feminine stereotypes to create gender-secretive characters. The heterosexual love interest that has hitherto ruled the creative world is thus replaced by endless gender possibilities with which a couple may identify. Love, rather than the characters’ gender, is at the forefront of these works. These narratives confront readers with the importance they assign to gender and heir habit of pigeonholing certain behaviors, characteristics, and tendencies into a binary gender system. They force readers to question gender segregation and the consequences of choosing to defy the gender one is assigned at birth. Ultimately, these narratives ask whether gender matters in life.