Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



This dissertation is a study of how some displaced Caribbean and Italian American women examine identity within a literary tradition that considers them "Other." I have chosen four culturally diverse novels to explore, each one written by a different female author: Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, Maryse Condé's La migration des cœurs, Rosario Ferré's The House on the Lagoon, and Tina De Rosa's Paper Fish. I identify the causes of the protagonists' displacement, and analyze the actions they take to make themselves heard in a tradition that has formerly silenced them. The role of the mother is especially important in these novels, for the unstable relationship each protagonist has with her mother parallels her uncertainty with regard to her mother country and her mother language. All of the protagonists, with one exception, enter an unhealthy marriage which further pushes them into a marginalized space. Ultimately, they are not only labeled "Other" because of their ethnicity, but also because of their gender. I argue that through the text, the protagonists carve out an identity they were previously denied. In Western literature, there has been little authentic representation of characters considered "Other." In authoring her own text, however, the "Other" writes for herself. The appropriation and revision of the Western canonical text, the usurpation of power through writing, and the determination to reveal the ethnic experience are all strategies these authors employ to establish their presence within the dominant literary tradition.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jefferson Humphries