Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Joan Baranow, PhD

First Reader

Judy Halebsky, PhD

Second Reader

Thomas Burke, MFA


Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (1900-1948) is widely regarded as the first flapper of the Roaring 20s and is often recognized for her tumultuous marriage to acclaimed American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. As a female icon whose life was filled with salacious incidences and mental struggles, the image of Zelda continues to be reinterpreted in various movies, television series, and novels. However, very few center on her artistic pursuits of writing, painting, or dancing and how her desires to contribute to the art world were overshadowed and disrupted by her successful husband. Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (2013), a novel of biographical fiction, revisits the image of Zelda and gives agency to her image as an artist. This thesis explores the intersection of biography and fiction in Fowler’s novel in an attempt to call attention to Zelda’s identity as an artist rather than solely her historical position as wife and mother. Building upon biographies written by Nancy Milford and Sally Cline, this thesis argues for Fowler’s depiction of Zelda, one that is embedded in the New Woman identity of the 1920s. The resulting novel gives autonomy to Zelda and aids in reshaping her image for a modern 21st century audience.