Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Although much scholarship has been devoted to the study of the bildungsroman form and the novels of American ethnic women authors, the two topics have yet to be studied together extensively. Although critics have attempted to address the writing of these women within the bildungsroman framework, they generally view the novels as unsuccessful because the protagonists fail to develop single, coherent, autonomous identities. By accounting for the discrepancies of gendered experience and recognizing that female protagonists are consistently silenced, one can apply the bildungsroman form to these texts with simple alteration. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich, and Mother Tongue by Demetria Martinez effectively represent the struggle of female protagonists to create and sustain their identities. These novels further illustrate the struggle of ethnic women who are multiply oppressed and silenced. Thus, the modern female bildungsroman is accomplished when the protagonist accepts the paradoxes of her identity, and, by refusing to silence anyone part of herself, becomes multivocal. She further must create a community in which to speak, ensuring herself a place as a speaking subject, rather than a passive object.


Steven Trout

Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2006 Samantha Scott


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