Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Henke, Suzette Ann

Author's Keywords

Virginia Woolf; Simone de Beauvoir; Gender; First World War; Great Britain; France


Women--France--History--20th century; Women--Great Britain--History--20th century; Women and literature--France--History--20th century; Women and literature--Great Britain--History--20th century; Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908-1986; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941


This dissertation is a cross-cultural analysis of France and Great Britain during both the First World War and World War II in which Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf redefined "woman." Utilizing New Historicism, the first chapter begins with a focus on the evolution of the two cultures from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century France and Great Britain and discusses the ways in which the women's movement was both perpetuated and hindered by the volatile political and cultural climates of these two countries. The second chapter discusses the traditional woman as she was viewed in both French and British culture as depicted in the works of Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf. Specifically, the images of the mother, wife, hostess, and socialite are viewed in order to develop the definition of what a traditional woman was during the first half of the Twentieth Century in Great Britain and France. The third chapter lays the theoretical and philosophical ground work for the argument of An(Other) gender. Existentialism and phenomenology allow for a philosophical validation of this idea. Chapter four utilizes examples from Woolfs fictional works, such as Mrs. Dalloway, and Beauvoir's The Second Sex in order to analyze the definition of the traditional woman. This chapter is not comparing genres but rather re-visiting Woolfs works through the lens of Beauvoir's The Second Sex as she clearly describes the traditional role of women as dictated by patriarchal domination. Chapter five seeks to explore Woolf and Beauvoir's attempts at (re)defining (an)other gender. Louis Althusser's Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) is used to contemplate the place of "woman" at the time of Woolf and Beauvoir both in the home and as an emerging figure in society.