Author

Mary Domareki

Date of Award

2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Language

French

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

French

Advisor

Kathryn Slott

Second Committee Member

Susan Pinette

Third Committee Member

Jane Moss

Abstract

In this thesis 1 will be examining the two-volume autobiographical uorks of Quebec writer Claire Martin, In an Iron Glove: The Left Cheek and In an Iron Glove: The Right Cheek which were published in Quebec in 1965 and 1966, respectively. I will be discussing their significance and impact, as well as situating them in their historical and social context of Quebec during the Quiet Revolution in the 1960's. I will also be indirectly exploring their contribution to the feminist awakening and the reclaiming of a female 'subject' position of this period. My essential thesis is that Martin's publication of her autobiography had strong ramifications not just because of its content, which boldly called the Quebec society of her childhood into questicn, but by the very act of writing it and using the autobiographical genre in a feminine vcice. I will begin the study in Chapter One with a brief discassion of Claire Martin's life and an overview of the themes that appear in her fictional and autobiographical works. In Chapter Two I will give a brief summary of the historical context in which her works appeared and discuss the place of women from the political and judicial perspectives in Quebec during the early twentieth century. This will include a discussion of the role the Catholic church played in Quebec society during the first five decades of the twentieth century, the effect of the Catholic church's control of the education system on female education, and a summary of the major changes which took place in Quebec society during the Quiet Revolution. In Chapter Three I will focus on the significance of autobiography as a genre from a theoretical standpoint with a particular emphasis on the feminist perspectii-e. I will also discuss the importance of Martin's use of the 'I' subject pronoun in her writing to establish herself as 'subject,' express her voice, and speak out in protest against the institutions, a patriarchal family system, the church, and state, that had oppressed llcr throughout her childhood. I will also explore the significance of autobiography written in a female voice and its impact on challenging the established social order. Martin's role as a forerunner in the use of the autobiographical genre will also be discussed with reference to the fact that this genre had hardly been used in Quebec before 1960, by men or women. In Chapter Four, I will examine Martin's use of irony as a potent form of social commentary. This will include a theoretical discussion of irony, including its particularities in the feminine voice, and a more specific look at the way Martin used irony, and especially 'ironic recitation.' The targets of Martin's irony will also be explored : her father, patriarchy in general, the Catholic church, and its misogynist view of women. The conclusion will include a brief mention of the feminist movement that exploded in Quebec in the 1970's: which was impacted by the publication of Martin's autobiography, and a restatement of the overall political and social impact of her works.

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