Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation demonstrates the centrality of conventional womanhood to feminist literary history. As women gained access to voting rights, universities, and professions in the early years of the twentieth century, some writers sought to distinguish themselves from old-fashioned, domestic women in order to fashion themselves as uniquely modern. Not like Other Girls argues that this gesture of contradistinction has formed a core component of the feminist modernist ethos, both for early century writers and their scholarly reception. In response to this rift between the modern and the conventional, the dissertation gives an account of conventionality’s presence in modern feminist life. I argue that domestic labor forms a constitutive part of feminist studies and activism, especially beyond narrowly white, Western, and cisgender feminist orthodoxies. Through readings of texts by Virginia Woolf, Cornelia Sorabji, Doris Lessing, Alice B. Toklas, Monique Truong, Muriel Spark, and Zadie Smith, as well as an array of literary criticism, this dissertation illustrates the significance of conventional women’s work and embodiment for an anti-racist and collaborative feminist politics.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Anca Parvulescu

Committee Members

Chris A. Eng