Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Arline Thorn

Second Advisor

Arnold Hartstein

Third Advisor

Barbara Ladner


Today autobiography and memoir hold great interest for the average reader as well as the literary scholar. Some argue this form has replaced the novel as the dominant modern/postmodern narrative expression. Its study crosses departmental boundaries, surfacing in disciplines such as psychology, as well as English/literature. This thesis focuses on the autobiographies of two Euro-American actresses of the early twentieth century. Intersecting the study of film, narrative, autobiography (“female” or feminist, as well as canonical or “male”) and modernism, it focuses on text and subtext, analyzing reasons for both the works’ and actress/authors’ cultural marginalization. In art as well as life, Frances Farmer and Louise Brooks offer aspects of both the “masculine” and “feminine”—whether speaking of narrative structure or assigned gender roles in a given culture. Ultimately, however, canonical “male” aspects of the autobiographical genre present themselves in their works as filtered through a more “female”-centered lens.