Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Stonecoast

First Advisor

Susan Conley

Keywords

Stonecoast MFA, historical fiction, female protagonist, American historical fiction, Nathaniel Hawthorne, multi-genre

Abstract

I AM ADELE BLOCH-BAUER, I AM HESTER PRYNNE is a compilation of fiction and nonfiction. This cross-genre thesis includes two excerpts from historical novels with female protagonists, and an essay on women’s historical fiction. For the study and creation of female-centered historical fiction I researched and wrote in a wide range of areas, both intellectual and temporal. First, I read and traced the emergence of female-focused American historical fiction that began with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and continues today with historical fiction based in fact such as Lily King’s Euphoria and Paula McClain’s The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. Second, I examined the origin of American feminist thought and literature from Margaret Fuller’s Women of the Nineteenth Century to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and beyond. Third, I researched fin-de-siècle Jewish Vienna at the dawn of the twentieth century to write and re-envisioned the life of the modern art patron Adele Bloch- Bauer (1881-1925) for the novel Stolen Beauty. Finally, I researched 19th century Concord, Massachusetts and the roots of Transcendentalism, as well as the 1848 Italian revolution, to draft a new novel in which I re-envision the relationship between Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorne as it drives the creation of The Scarlet Letter in the years 1840-1850. This new novel is titled I Am Hester Prynne, and a small selection is included herein.

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