Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Clune, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Moxley, Ph.D.


Folklore, Cultural retention, Ancestor, Fashion theory, Ornamentation


I investigate the function of dress as it relates to cultural retention in Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, drawing upon the work of fashion theorists Joanne Entwistle, Alison Lurie and Anne Hollander. My examination of the two novels is informed by several excellent scholarly works which hold that characters' well being is determined by the extent to which they connect with their folkloric roots, the central message in both Ceremony and Praisesong for the Widow. I build on this discourse by demonstrating that the novels' consistent attention to clothing is a device that situates characters psychologically in their spiritual journeys homeward, from fragmented self identity to incorporeal contentment. My investigation of the unique treatment of clothing and adornment as metaphor for the novels' crises finds that the images of dress in characters' internal and external worlds heightens the conflict and illustrates the resolution in both novels.