Claude Cahun, born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, was an author, playwright, surrealist photographer and anti-fascist activist who spent most of their lives in France and the Isle of Jersey from their birth in 1894 to their early death in 1954. Throughout their career they went by various aliases and pennames, settling on Claude Cahun in 1917, a gender-ambiguous name in French. While they considered themselves a writer before a photographer it is their photography that they are probably best known for today, becoming popular for their "modern" content that explores gender identity and its presentation. These self-portraits, along with their personal writings, support the conclusion that Cahun was (or could be considered, as they did not have the language of gender and sexuality in their lifetime) a transgender, nonbinary individual, possibly gender fluid. For this reason, throughout this research I will be using the singular they/them pronouns in reference to Cahun as well as their partner Marcel Moore. This thesis will investigate and analyze the photographic work of Claude Cahun as their own personal exploration of their sexuality and gender identity. I will use both the context of their writings, and those of other contemporaries within a framework of early 20th cenrtury culture to better understand their content.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Ilenia Colon Mendoza


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

December 2019