Date of Thesis

Spring 2021


This thesis examines the representation of female trauma in the work of contemporary French women authors. Through analysis of their narrativization in terms of psychological techniques, historical context, and written style, this work proposes an in-depth look into the literary expressions of Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux, and Nelly Arcan. The three work in conjunction to span nearly half a century of literature, from the throes of World War II, into the turn of the 21st century. Each author presents an opportunity to examine different and unique forms of female trauma—wartime trauma, abortion related trauma, and trauma in connection with sexuality. In examining these narratives, this thesis discovers the narrative evolution of female trauma through the years as the socio-political climate shifts and changes from one decade to the next. The heart of each experience resonates with similarity as conveyed through the use of various literary techniques which linger with likeness. More specifically, these three authors explore topics of memory, bodily influence, performance or performativity, activeness in the form of writing, testimony and a compulsive need to testify in writing (often in response to systematic censorship). Additionally, they rely on literary elements of repetition, heavily detailed imagery, female expression via character, time-driven writing, and engagement with their (respective) surrounding political and socio-cultural environments. As the thesis develops, one notices both consistency and evolution in the values placed upon women and their own personal concerns—showcasing in finality how testimonies on female trauma have both remained consistent and yet transformed through the latter half of the 20th century.


trauma, narrative, women, gender, autofiction, French and Francophone studies

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Second Major


First Advisor

Nathalie Dupont


Defense Committee:

Chase Gregory, Second Reader

Jeremy Chow, Honors Council Faculty Representative