Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master Degree of English



First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel K.

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Karem

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie M. Burrell


Inaugurated in historical fiction by Sir Walter Scott, the dichotomy of the virgin/whore or wife/spinster has long been ingrained in culture and continues to be perpetuated throughout literature. In contrast, two contemporary female historical novelists, Suzannah Dunn and Tracy Chevalier created female protagonists who break from that binary and present an alternative version of womanhood in The Queen of Subtleties and Remarkable Creatures respectively. The heroines in these two novels demonstrate personal agency through successful professions, and with the support of older, female mentors, their characters offer a representation of women and femininity that is not dependent upon men or marriage. Further, these two novelists use metaphorical imagery and visual punctuation to narrate interiority for their heroines and subsequently reclaim feminine identity for this third type of woman in history.