Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Literature and Languages

Department or Program Chair

Judy Halebsky, PhD

First Reader

Thomas Burke, MFA


Memoirs have long been a valuable way in which individuals share and reflect on their past experiences. The genre of memoir writing especially had a tremendous impact on a range of American female writers. This thesis explores memoirs written by women throughout the 20th century. With the shift in women’s roles during the 1900s and early 2000s, the memoirs examined emphasize the importance of feminine identity. The analysis provided within this thesis centers on each memoirist’s unique path in determining her sense of self. Moreover, the memoirists each use the process of writing to relay the value of personal growth and transition to readers. The memoirs examined are The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; Girl, Interrupted by Susana Kaysen; Wild by Cheryl Strayed; and Julie & Julia by Julie Powell.