Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Janet Gabler Hover - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Sattelmeyer


Margaret Fuller’s and Elizabeth Stoddard’s innovative use of the language of flowers in “The Magnolia of Lake Pontchartrain” and The Morgesons explore multilevel feminine discourse in ways later described by Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigary. Fuller uses flowers symbolically in her text, not mimicking conventional sentimental motifs, but inspiring women’s independence and self-development. Fuller’s flower images become anthropomorphic possibilities for female empowerment which re-envision American women’s social roles and express Fuller’s developing feminism. Stoddard’s use of flowers reflects her realist writing and captures many of the contemporary social applications of flowers. Stoddard, like Alice Walker, sees some artistic agency for women through gardening, but ultimately finds the comparison of women to flowers an antiquated system which holds women back in search of social progress.