Date of Completion


Embargo Period



French, Literature, Quebec, History, Women

Major Advisor

Anne Berthelot

Associate Advisor

Eliane Dalmolin

Associate Advisor

Roger Celestin

Field of Study

Literatures, Languages, and Cultures


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The objective of this dissertation is to examine the tendency on the part of several québécois women authors from the 20th century to create alternative feminine biographies for forgotten, undervalued, or misrepresented women from the past. Given the complex relationship the Québécois have with their provincial history, and the central role chauvinistic representations of women and the “Québec national text” play in safeguarding the québécois cultural identity, contemporary women writers from Québec are singularly poised to resurrect, recreate, revive, and rewrite the feminine historical experience into the traditional discourse of History. From Québec’s most famous woman writer, Anne Hébert, to a lesser known militant lesbian playwright, Jovette Marchessault, and other québécois women writers along the spectrum, there exists a common trope: plays and novels in which homo- or heterodiegetic women narrators feel compelled to (re)tell another woman’s feminine (hi)story. Some examples of this practice appear initially to be somewhat traditional works of historical fiction, others ignore almost entirely the referential world beyond the confines of their pages. Québec and its history dominate some works examined here, while in other the province that promises “Je me souviens” plays virtually no important role. Despite these variations, this dissertation will demonstrate that alternative biographies, whether based in referential foundations or on purely fictional inventions, allow for a combination of history and fiction necessary to (re)tell feminine (hi)stories in a more complete, truthful way than has been possible with traditional historical discourse or fiction. For these authors, alternative biographies allow women past, present, and future to assume a more active role in the construction of their own (hi)story. In creating a literary present that honors the fictional and historical past, they have created a past for the present.