Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation


Love, lust, and power are themes that fill the pages of literature, are enacted upon the silver screen, and presented on stage. Such themes evoke courtship and the places where courtship occurs, such as the garden, balcony, and tower. Each of these settings has unique spatial dynamics, as well as distinctive representational and symbolic significance. A woman, while present in such places, uses both physical and metaphorical spatial dynamics to create a source of power and control over a man who courts her. By regulating the amount of space between them, she rules her body; in ruling her body, she determines her own fate. As the amount of vertical space between a woman and her suitor increases, so too does her control over her own body and destiny. When the authors presented in this study create a space in which a woman can make her own choices, such creators transgress societal norms, but, in order to escape censorship, they must provide a punishment for such a woman’s behavior, and that punitive measure often involves either actual or metaphorical death. These authors are, in fact, writing subversive material without the appearance of doing so. By combining theoretical elements from sociology, psychoanalysis, and feminist studies, I analyze the ways in which women use spatial dynamics to transgress societal mores and carve out areas of power for themselves. Although such transgressive women are found in patriarchal societies all over the world, I chose works from Europe, America, and Latin America that were both representative of the motifs explored in this study and well-known within their respective national traditions. I begin each chapter with a “parent” text from which later works borrowed, and in order to demonstrate the prevalence of these places in texts, the works chosen derive from different genres written over the last five and a half centuries.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Heneghan, Dorota