Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Janet Gabler-Hover

Second Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman

Third Advisor

Dr. Matthew Roudane


The language of flowers was a popular phenomenon in the United States in the nineteenth century. This dissertation on American literature looks at several American women authors’ use of the language of flowers in their novels. I examine the use of the language of flowers in Margaret Fuller’s “Magnolia of Lake Pontchartrain,” “Yuca Filamentosa,” and poetry such as “To Sarah,” Elizabeth Stoddard’s The Morgesons, Edith Wharton’s Summer, Mary Austin’s Santa Lucia: A Common Story and Cactus Thorn, and Susan Glaspell’s The Verge. Through analysis of language of flowers dictionaries, historical studies of the language of flowers, feminist history and theory, and close readings of the sketches, poems, novels, and plays themselves, I will show that American women continued to use and be influenced by the language of f lowers for close to a decade. I will also show that these women writers’ use of the language of flowers shows evolving social attitudes toward women and standards of femininity in American society during the nineteenth and early-twentieth century.