Date Thesis Awarded

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

English

Advisor

Jennifer Putzi

Committee Member

Kara Thompson

Committee Member

Karin Wulf

Committee Member

Melanie Dawson

Abstract

Acclaimed poet of the mid-nineteenth century Julia Ward Howe is currently best known for her civil war poem “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” But more recent research has uncovered manuscripts like The Hermaphrodite, an incomplete prose piece detailing the life of intersexed protagonist Laurence published by Gary Williams, among other more personal poems included in Williams’s biography. Her unpublished manuscript poems and prose suggest a more complex character to Howe’s writing. In particular, The Hermaphrodite manuscript, her 1852 collection Passion-flowers, and her unpublished poetry describe a woman torn between societal expectation and intellectual endeavor, and between body and spirit. Through evaluation of the Poetess figure, the seeming generic convention of nineteenth century women’s poetry, this thesis will argue that Howe’s project in writing these texts is the creation of a textual body that “completes” her seemingly disjointed and incomplete physical existence.