Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Warren Motte

Second Advisor

Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield

Third Advisor

Masano Yamashita

Fourth Advisor

Kieran Murphy

Fifth Advisor

Jill Heydt-Stevenson


More and more, various disciplines within the Humanities are showing interest in mobility, migration and uprooting. The history of travel literature has been widely investigated; post-colonial studies have examined the political and philosophical implications of colonialism and its consequences on human displacement, on the confrontation of different cultures, on the vision of the other, on hybridity and on the power struggle involved in these complex relationships. However, in most cases, these analyses are androcentric. This dissertation focuses on the different perspectives brought up by feminine writing in regards to modern stories of geographical and social uprooting, to narratives of exclusion and discrimination in general.

I devote one chapter each to three writers: Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux and Marie NDiaye, who all question the connection to origins and the loss of one’s roots, allowing us to understand how the concept of uprooting always turns into a question of deep bereavement. Strangely compelled to become what they already are (French, part of a certain social class, part of a given family or community...), the authors and characters I study discuss the meaning of femininity and uprooting while struggling with the double difficulty that it represents. In addition, a parallel can be drawn between the complex journey of uprooting, centered around the desire to belong, and the outcome of total literary independence achieved by Duras, Ernaux and NDiaye.