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Weaponizing the Language of Grief: An Analysis of Faulkner’s "A Rose for Emily"

Alexis Grap
Alexis Grap
Faculty Advisor(s)

This senior project analyzes William Faulkner’s short story, A Rose for Emily, using literary feminist theory critical concepts such as translation of language through embodiment and “good” versus “bad” women archetypes in literature. This in-progress project criticizes Faulkner’s use of personification of personal values and infantilization of the titular character in relation to the grieving process. I argue that Faulkner’s weaponization of grief language in the story discredits the twentieth century feminist movement and serves as an example for the importance of discussing and normalizing grief and dissecting embodied language. The project builds upon scholarly research from literary feminist theory critics such as Helene Cixous and Josephine Donovan as well as embodied rhetoric scholars Susan Bordo and Allison Knoblauch alongside Faulkner scholar Belinda Bruner to build a unique connection between literary theory, rhetorical analysis, and health studies. Through analyzing Faulkner’s story, I hope to provide an example of the intersection found between the three disciplines that constitute Salem College’s English Department.


Alexis is an English major with a focus in Professional Writing and Rhetorical Analysis. Currently, she works as a grant writer for non-profit organizations focusing primarily on aiding individuals and families lacking fixed housing. After graduation, Alexis plans to use her degree to continue her work in Tennessee while pursuing a Masters degree in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.


I look forward to hearing your talk tomorrow. I'm a Faulkner fan, so I'm excited that you'll be giving me new insight into his work.

Submitted by Paula_Young on Tue, 04/11/2023 - 19:56 Permalink