Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Susan Marren

Committee Member

Constance Bailey

Second Committee Member

Casey Kayser

Keywords

creativity, female artists, Privacy, Spatiality, Virginia Woolf, women writers

Abstract

There is a divergence between Woolf’s vision of private physical spaces necessary for creating art and that of some feminists of color such as Alice Walker, Ortiz Cofer, and Gloria Anzaldua. Both Woolf and these contemporary scholars agree on the importance of physical spaces for female artists. However, they disagree on the nature of these spaces. Woolf’s private physical space is a room with a lock on the door whereas these writers’ room is the kitchen table, the bus, or the welfare line. Walker and like-minded writers challenge the narrowness of Woolf’s room because her locked room is a luxury that is only available to white wealthy women. This thesis seeks to examine the relation between Woolf’s room and that of some feminist scholars of color and explore if their visions of private physical spaces, allowing for and promoting women’s creativity, have anything in common. It also aims to resolve the tension between these two parties’ ideas of physical spaces by investigating how Woolf’s room or an expanded version of it has been reflected in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and provide a possible answer for Alice Walker’s question about how a poor, slave woman such as Phillis Wheatley who did not even own herself could write poetry that considered “superior” at her time and today.

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