Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Petra Munro


Prevalent in both archetypal and religious literature, the journey motif weaves its way through tales of human growth-stories which grapple with the processes of how people come to be and to know. Such images of identity formation and knowledge construction hold significant implications for the field of education. Indeed, Huebner (1993) notes that "we do not need learning theory or developmental theory to explain human change...The question educators need to ask is not how people learn and develop, but what gets in the way of the great journey---the journey of the self or soul" (p. 405). While Huebner's suggested paradigm shift is promising, it is limited by current conceptions of the journey metaphor. For example, narratives which promote separation and "rugged individualism" dominate American Literature classrooms, and although the canon contains numerous quest stories, these tales tend to be limited to individualistic journeys which center only on men's experiences. Therefore, rather than promote a unitary quest which exclusively emphasizes separation, individuation, and mate heroes, it is important to investigate and to construct new possibilities that consider the life experiences of women and marginalized peoples. The focus of this study is the life journey of the once well-known nineteenth century American novelist Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789--1867). Using her most popular novel Hope Leslie (1827) as a primary source, I will gather clues regarding how a woman I have come to know as a scholar-artist-teacher negotiated her life journey. In particular, I will discuss how Sedgwick's historical novel became a site from which she could safely experiment with cultural change. Sedgwick searched early national histories and disrupted cultural myths in order to construct spaces for herself, other women, and indigenous peoples within their nation's story. In contrast to conventional, linear journeys that stress extreme individualism, Sedgwick's non-linear quest emphasized the importance of community and an awareness of interconnection. Themes or clues that emerge from her subversive journey, involve an acceptance of contradictions, a reshaping of false binaries, the "redemption" of racial stereotypes, and the creative use of love and the imagination.