Department or Program



This honors thesis examines Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1961) and Toni Morrison’s Sula (1973) through the lens of gender, sexuality, and race using psychoanalytic theory to reinterpret the bildungsroman. Juxtaposing two mid-twentieth-century American women’s novels enables the displacement of the individualist definition of the classic white male coming of age plot to center the plot on women’s narratives, with the intention to refigure the term for an accurate representation of mid-century white and Black women’s development. Using Diana Fuss’s theory of queer “identification” as the starting point for readings of both novels (Identification Papers 1995), these interpretations will focus on the double and the Black girlfriend, patterns of violence, Catherine Belsey’s work on cultural ideology (Critical Practice, 1980), and semiotic theory.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Houchins, Sue

Second Advisor

Freedman, Sanford

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.