Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Dykins Callahan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.


hybridity, motherhood, postcoloniality, religion, religious syncretism, subversion


This thesis is a comparative analysis of the works of the Native American author Louise Erdrich (Love Medicine, Tracks) and the African American writer Alice Walker (The Color Purple). Originating from different cultural traditions, Native American and African American women writers address common themes in their novels because of their common colonial background. One of the main themes in their writings is that of religion. Despite becoming victims of Christianity used as a means of cultural colonization, both African American and Native American communities reinterpret it in terms of their traditional religious beliefs and create a new, unique hybridized form of spirituality characteristic of postcolonial societies. The other theme examined in my work and present in the novels of both authors is the theme of motherhood. While being exposed to the white middle-class familial structure and values, Native and black families succeeded nevertheless in retaining and maintaining their cultural heritage by subversion of the Western family standards through adherence and preservation of their traditional family organizations and gender roles.