Publication Date

5-3-2006

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Abstract

Without pretensions to exhaustiveness, this study briefly examines the mid- to late-twentieth-century flowering of western theory and criticism built around autobiographical writing and follows the feminist branch(es) of that theory and criticism through a reading of the following four memoirs: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, All the Lost Girls by Patricia Foster, Lying by Lauren Slater, and Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Using both Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory as they relate to literature, I argue that the selves these four women write in their memoirs are not selves built around the model historically set for women by feminist criticism of autobiography. Instead, Grealy, Foster, Slater, and Wurtzel, each raised by a relatively ineffectual or absent father and a strong-willed mother, fashion autonomous Lacanian 'I's for themselves out of relationships with their mothers that more closely resemble the adversarial relationship Freud posited between fathers and sons than they do the communal and less autonomy-engendering mother-daughter relationships many feminist critics predict.

Disciplines

Cultural History | English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's History | Women's Studies