Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

M. Keith Booker

Committee Member

Robin Roberts

Second Committee Member

Sean Dempsey

Third Committee Member

Sean Connors

Keywords

Language, Literature and linguistics, Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, John Tenniel, Graphic novels, Humor, Madness

Abstract

Mad female characters in Western literature have traditionally represented attempts by dominant patriarchal discourse to subjugate women’s discourse: these characters are usually pathologized in both their dialogue with other characters and in their physical bodies. This subjugation by representation of mad female characters in dominant discourse parallels similar attempts to portray women as lacking in humor. This thesis studies the intersections between madness and humor and the ability of female characters that embody both to challenge and subvert dominant discourse. By examining the characters of Alice from Lewis Carroll’s novel and Delirium from Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series The Sandman as a progression of these ideas, this thesis seeks to show how these characters challenge readers’ schemata concerning madness and humor.

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