Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Modern Languages and Literatures

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kathleen Loysen

Committee Member

Lois Oppenheim

Committee Member

Elizabeth Emery


This project analyzes how the act of storytelling, which is comparable to collecting, bears upon the structure of narrative. The connection between the narrative voice of women, their points of view, and how they obtain the power of their voices will be explored in this thesis on the basis of L ’Heptaméron by Marguerite de Navarre and Lettres d ’une Péruvienne by Françoise de Graffigny.

Chapter 1 introduces a theory that the act of collecting is also a way of telling stories. This analysis will introduce how Marguerite de Navarre and Françoise de Graffigny utilize this method to tell their stories.

In chapter 2 I will show how Marguerite de Navarre in L ’Heptaméron utilizes the principles of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference to create her story through the use of the narrative frame and her circle of storytellers. In turn, this framework creates the basis of a collection which links our experiences of the past to our understanding of the world we live in today.

Chapter 3 will focus on how the heroine in de Graffigny’s Lettres d ’une Péruvienne uses letter writing as a way of collecting that leads to the creation of the story that is her life. I will show how these writers use the act of collecting in the creation of their stories. This study thus seeks to show how Graffigny and de Navarre through their female narrators reach out to the reader and, in so doing, create collections as result of the storytelling process.

The reader, too, plays a role, understanding a literary work that is based on shared cultural knowledge, rules, social norms, and conventions. In essence, the author writes through her characters creating a framework for her story. In the process of reading, the reader too, creates his or her own framework. All who participate in this process create their own “collection” of the work. My thesis will show how Marguerite de Navarre in L ’ Heptaméron and Françoise de Graffigny in Lettres d ’une Péruvienne use the act of collecting as a method of narrativity, as a way of having their stories told and their voices heard. The text is in essence re- interpreted by each new reader within the context of the times in which the story is read. Cultural norms affect both the original writing of and the subsequent ‘understanding’ of the text. Thus, this thesis will demonstrate that the reader too, is a collector as he creates the story for himself. In fact, the writer, the characters she creates, and the reader are all collectors.

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