Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name




Faculty Mentor

Chris Raczkowski


Robert Coleman, Ann Guzy


By using Gertrude Stein’s two autobiographies, this thesis attempts to examine the use and evolution of play in writing. In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, play stands within the language and games that Stein invites her readers to engage in. By using Roger Caillois’ characteristics of play, Stein’s writing can be seen as different from the high, serious modernism at the time with writers like William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. After the publication of Toklas, Stein reverted into a crippling writer’s block because she could no longer find interest in the world to think and write about. However, after an experience with a dead Englishwoman, she was thrown back into a world of questions with no straightforward answer, which lead her to begin writing again. Everybody’s Autobiography is a meditation on these questions that haunted her at first but became a playful mystery to think about.


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