Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Warren Motte

Second Advisor

Élisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield

Third Advisor

Karen Jacobs

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Braider

Fifth Advisor

Brian Valente-Quinn


In this dissertation, I examine how Josephine Baker, Annie Ernaux, Irène Némirovsky, and Nathalie Sarraute navigate notions of home, nation, and belonging in their lives and works. Chapter One focuses on categories and their formation, how they act as limits that have real effects on those within them. That chapter also centers on the theme of borders and boundaries as limiting, and how physical borders are used (un)officially to restrict access. In Chapter Two, I examine borders as liminal, conditional, transitory, and threshold spaces. I also inspect cases of border crossings and what it means to acknowledge arrival onto the other side of a borderline. Chapter Three investigates the flexibility to cross back and forth across a borderline, which demonstrates the border as permeable for some and not for others. I address changing spaces and immigration: border crossings and arrival into a new place, looking at depictions of arrival and how arrival is ultimately impossible as is returning to the past as it becomes apparent that the border-crosser is recognized by others and by themselves as an outsider. Lastly, in Chapter Four, I focus on issues of belonging in France as a particular location from which all the authors in my project lived, where assimilation is impossible because it falsely moves in a singular direction. In my conclusion, I reexamine each author individually, investigating how they write from the space of the border, establishing their dexterity as border-dwellers. Finally, I demonstrate how each author claims a space for herself in the novel and in France, addressing her agency in her writing.