Anonymous No Longer: The Evolution Of The Autobiographical Impulse From Austen To Angelou
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This thesis touches three centuries to analyze the progression of the autobiographical impulse in the works of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Maya Angelou. By introducing a brief history of the state of women writers during each period before delving into the individual works, the essay explores what genres the three writers utilize to write about their lives. It is not the intention of this thesis to argue that these women pioneered the genre in which they wrote about their lives; rather, the thesis explores how each woman author, whether intentionally or unintentionally, serves as an exemplar for women, past and present, to look to as women write their own lives. This thesis claims that while Austen scatters pieces of her identity throughout her fictional characters in order to self-reflect, Virginia Woolf creates a more integrated identity through the use of memoirs as each memoir represents a “snapshot” of Woolf’s life. Lastly, Maya Angelou creates an almost fully integrated, open identity by writing about entire portions of her life through various autobiographies. Whether through fiction, memoir, or autobiography, this thesis evaluates how each woman author utilized her works to explore different aspects of her personality as well as specific events that shaped her life. With each author, the autobiographical impulse becomes more apparent and unfiltered. By connecting the works of the three women, this thesis assesses how each woman author explores and createsher own sense of self.