Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2022


The aim of this thesis is to investigate the role that shame plays as a subversive tool in the works of Québécoise author Nelly Arcan. Dealing with themes such as sexuality, gender, suicide, and resentment, Arcan’s works deal with that which can be deemed “shameful,” and she deliberately speaks the unspeakable. First in constructing an understanding in how a shame-based vocabulary is employed throughout her works, we then study how this shame subverts expectations and adds weight to political questions relevant to the widespread use of electronic media. How does intentionally occupying a role that is shamed within society function as a discursive creation of power? How is accountability leveraged by using a vocabulary of shame? How can shame be addressed and used to overcome important issues? This study informs our conception of shame and shame resilience as a tool for productivity in social and cultural spheres.


Nelly Arcan, Québec Literature, Francophone Literature, French Literature, Shame, Honte, Québec

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Stephen Bishop

Second Committee Member

Marina Peters-Newell

Third Committee Member

Pamela Cheek