Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Avis Hewitt

Second Advisor

Danielle DeMuth

Third Advisor

Brian White


The fiction of Mary Wilkins Freeman and Flannery O'Connor, especially Freeman's “A New England Nun” and “The Balsam Fir” and O'Connor's “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” and “Good Country People,” expose and challenge heteronormativity. Consideration of heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality, as well as religious themes demonstrates the way their works offer an avenue of challenge for characters struggling with societal forces that push them towards an unwanted or unfulfilling heterosexuality. Although Freeman's works suggest that a satisfactory life outside heterosexual norms is unrealistic, with community alienation the price for resistance, she envisions religion a valuable tool in such resistances. O'Connor's texts explore the problems and possibilities of living in a heteronormative society and suggest divine grace as an avenue to transcendence of these harms. Neither believes in an easy solution to the struggles of finding fulfillment in the face of heteronormativity, but each considers resistance valuable.