Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Theses that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

French & Francophone Studies

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2012

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

motherhood, performance, epistolarity, identity, subjectivity, speech acts

Abstract

This paper conducts a critical comparison of the correspondence of Madame de Sévigné, Empress Marie-Thérèse of Austria and Joséphine Bonaparte. These women instruct their daughters through a writerly exchange that implements a remarkably similar use of language that indicates a “performance” of her maternal role, meant to implement a personal or political agenda that requires the daughter’s acknowledgement and reciprocation. This project explores theories of speech acts and subjectivity to conduct a literary analysis of the construction of the maternal figure in a historical context, its representation in the letters of each woman with their daughters, the motivations for a “performance” of the maternal role, and the subsequent characterization, reaction, and liberation of the daughter’s voice.

Share

COinS
 

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Vanpée, Janie
Hayes, Julie