The construction of personal identity in twentieth-century women's life-writing: The autobiographies of Willa Muir, Margaret Lawrence and Janet Frame

Fuentes-Vasquez, Carmen Luz (2007) The construction of personal identity in twentieth-century women's life-writing: The autobiographies of Willa Muir, Margaret Lawrence and Janet Frame. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study examines autobiographies by three women writers active at the mid-twentieth century. These works are chosen as appropriate sources for the examination of modes of construction and representation of personal identity. Margaret Laurence, and Janet Frame have been considered together before but the addition of Willa Muir has provided new possibilities for the analysis of miters who prove to have more in common than may at first appear. These autobiographies constitute examples of narratives in which intellectually gifted and original literary women define themselves. This study explores the evocative, engaging life stories these women produced, in spite of the many obstacles they had to confront. It analyses how the authors in their autobiographies convey how they were socialised to fulfil certain roles - constrained in this way by their social identities - and at the same time, how particular identities, sometimes even the same ones, offered them strength and community in a sense of belonging. Traditional ideas of selfhood and the notion of a unified, essential self are challenged by these texts. They also interrogate customary generalizations about autobiography, especially when they are considered from the perspective of gender. Comparisons between these authors' autobiographical texts suggest that women's experiences - though exceedingly diverse over time and from one writer to another - generate some thematic similarities among their narratives, which could be a remarkably productive field of study for additional analyses of these texts, and which could helpfully inform future critical and theoretical approaches to the treatment of women's life-writing in general.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Dorothy McMillan
Keywords: Biographies, English literature, Women's studies
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-71163
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71163

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