Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Susan Honeyman

Committee Members

Michelle Beissel Heath, Amanda Sladek, Claude Louisehomme




While looking at literature, theatre, and film and the development of characters, it is essential to acknowledge the intersectionality of various components of one's identity, the multi-dimensional view that all identities are composed of a complex tapestry consisting of multiple identifiers. This thesis will examine the sociological and psychological processes that contribute to the subject identifying with a particular identity, and thereby the discarding of other potentially exclusive identities. Using established theories from Foucault and Spivak, this study will utilize several texts to specifically examine the significance of silence on the part of the subject when placing themselves in one group (identity) and subsequently removing or excluding him or herself from the other, possible inverse identities. These texts include: the novel 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and film by the same name directed by Steve McQueen, Fun Home, the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and the musical adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, the novel by Fannie Flagg and movie by John Avnet. By examining the text and the film/play for each title, it will be possible to isolate the use of silence, both in writing and audio samples, and examine the significance silence plays when definitively establishing identity. These findings will help establish identifiable criteria to understand the timing and processes that are involved in identity studies, paying particular attention to moments of silence and their depiction.



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