Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Daniel Westover

Committee Members

Dr. Shawna Lichtenwalner, Dr. Mark Baumgartner


Nineteenth-century British authors, in particular, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen, often turned to orphaned children as a means to drive the plot of their novels. While struggles such as displacement were often accurately depicted, the abovementioned authors and their contemporaries often glossed over or completely disregarded the trauma and psychological implications felt by these orphans. As psychology gained prominence as a discipline through the works of Sigmund Freud and others, modern British literature saw a shift in its consideration of orphans and, additionally, emotionally absent mothers. This thesis will examine three modern British novels; Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and Graham Swift’s Waterland with respect to their exploration of the psychological and possible traumatic impact of their protagonists lives in a variety of disrupted family dynamics.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.