Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Karen Dandurand, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David Downing, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Comfort, Ph.D.


This study considers American women’s use of satirical humorous dialogue for subversive political discourse, highlighting gender disparity that occurred across socioeconomic strata and ethnicities in America during the second half of the nineteenth century and the second part of the twentieth century. While highlighting humorous satire as the mode that is used by the women considered in this study when confronting gender inequality, there is a comparison of similar contentions addressed by feminists in the second part of the nineteenth century and feminists in the second half of the twentieth century. Because each writing represents subversive social discourse in a specific social context, Makhail Bakhtin’s dialogic imagination and Marxist feminism bring a theoretical perspective to the study. The feminist voices included in this study are those of Harriet Jacobs, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Marietta Holley, Julia Alvarez, Olive Hershey, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sojourner Truth, Fanny Fern, Erma Bombeck, Estela Portillo Trambley, Alice Childress, Frances Harper, Emily Dickinson, Phoebe Cary, Judith Viorst, Sandra Cisneros, and Nikki Giovanni. That women are given minimal inclusion in American satire anthologies is the reason for the suggestion that a new anthology needs to be produced—one that represents, more equally, men’s and women’s satire.