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- Absalom, Absalom! A Study of Structure
- The conclusion drawn from this study is that the arrangement of material in Absalom, Absalom! is unified and purposeful. The structure evokes that despair that is the common denominator of mankind. It reveals both the bond between men and the separation of men; and though some of the most dramatic episodes in the novel picture the union of men in brotherly love, most of the material and certainly the arrangement of the material emphasize the estrangement of men. In addition, by juxtaposing chapters, each separated from the others by its own structural and thematic qualities, Faulkner places a burden of interpretation on the reader suggestive of the burden of despair that overwhelms the protagonists of the novel.
- The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition
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The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, and thus salvation, it illustrates that the abolitionist's intent was not merely to save the slave, but to redeem blacks first in the eyes of white Christians by opening blacks to an understanding and acceptance of God. Perhaps more importantly, abolitionists would use black salvation to buy back their own souls and the soul of their nation in the eyes of God in order to regain their own salvation lost in the slave trade. But ironically, they had to appear to be saving others to save themselves. So white abolitionists used the black narratives to persuade their overwhelmingly white audience that slavery was as bad for them as it was for the African slave. And in the process, a corpus of black writing was produced that gives current readers two glimpses of one world.
- After the Planes
- The dissertation consists of a critical preface and a novel. The preface analyzes what it terms “polyvocal” novels, or novels employing multiple points of view, as well as “layered storytelling,” or layers of textuality within novels, such as stories within stories. Specifically, the first part of the preface discusses polyvocality in twenty-first century American novels, while the second part explores layered storytelling in novels responding to World War II or the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The preface analyzes the advantages and difficulties connected to these techniques, as well as their aptitude for reflecting the fractured, disconnected, and subjective nature of the narratives we construct to interpret traumatic experiences. It also acknowledges the necessity—despite its inherent limitations—of using language to engage with this fragmentation and cope with its challenges. The preface uses numerous novels as examples and case studies, and it also explores these concepts and techniques in relation to the process of writing the novel After the Planes. After the Planes depicts multiple generations of a family who utilize storytelling as a means to work through grief, hurt, misunderstanding, and loss—whether from interpersonal conflicts or from war. Against her father’s wishes, a young woman moves in with her nearly-unknown grandfather, struggling to understand the rifts in her family and how they have shaped her own identity. She reads a book sent to her by her father, which turns out to be his story of growing up in the years following World War II. The book was intercepted and emended by her grandfather, who inserts his own commentary throughout, complicating her father’s hopes of reconciliation. The novel moves between two main narratives, one set primarily in 1951 and the other in the days and weeks immediately prior to September 11, 2001.
- AGenesis: A Novel
- AGenesis is a novel of "postmortal fiction" set entirely in an afterlife. Nessie, a recently dead woman, accidentally kills an already-dead man, and in the confusion that follows, sets out to discover how he could have died and what after-afterlife he might have gone to. During her travels, she is raped and then help captive by a city of tormented souls; she descends into madness until rescued by children, and she and her newborn but "undead" daughter set out again, this time to find the end of the afterlife. Nessie's daughter eventually seeks a way to enter a living world she's never known, while Nessie tries to end her suffering and find peace.
- Always Painting the Future: Utopian Desire and the Women's Movement in Selected Works by United States Female Writers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
- This study explores six utopias by female authors written at the turn of the twentieth century: Mary Bradley Lane's Mizora (1881), Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant's Unveiling Parallel (1893), Eloise O. Richberg's Reinstern (1900), Lena J. Fry's Other Worlds (1905), Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland (1915), and Martha Bensley Bruère's Mildred Carver, USA (1919). While the right to vote had become the central, most important point of the movement, women were concerned with many other issues affecting their lives. Positioned within the context of the late nineteenth century women's rights movement, this study examines these "sideline" concerns of the movement such as home and gender-determined spheres, motherhood, work, marriage, independence, and self-sufficiency and relates them to the transforming character of female identity at the time. The study focuses primarily on analyzing the expression of female historical desire through utopian genre and on explicating the contradictory nature of utopian production.
- American Grotesque from Nineteenth Century to Modernism: the Latter's Acceptance of the Exceptional
- This dissertation explores a history of the grotesque and its meaning in art and literature along with those of its related term, the arabesque, since their co-existence, specifically in literature, is later treated by a well-known nineteenth-century American writer in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque- Theories or views of the grotesque (used in literature), both in Europe and America, belong to twelve theorists of different eras, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present period, especially Modernism (approximately from 1910 to 1945)--Rabelais, Hegel, Scott, Wright, Hugo, Symonds, Ruskin, Santayana, Kayser, Bakhtin, (William Van) O'Connor, and Spiegel. My study examines the grotesque in American literature, as treated by both nineteenth-century writers--Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, and, significantly, by modernist writers--Anderson, West, and Steinbeck in Northern (or non-Southern) literature; Faulkner, McCullers, and (Flannery) O'Connor in Southern literature. I survey several novels and short stories of these American writers for their grotesqueries in characterization and episodes. The grotesque, as treated by these earlier American writers is often despised, feared, or mistrusted by other characters, but is the opposite in modernist fiction.
- "Among Waitresses": Stories and Essays
- The following collection represents the critical and creative work produced during my doctoral program in English. The dissertation consists of Part I, a critical preface, and Part II, a collection of seven short stories and two nonfiction essays. Part I, which contains the critical preface entitled "What to Say and How to Say It," examines the role of voice in discussions of contemporary literature. The critical preface presents a definition of voice and identifies examples of voice-driven writing in contemporary literature, particularly from the work of Mary Robison, Dorothy Allison, and Kathy Acker. In addition, the critical preface also discusses how the use of flavor, tone, and content contribute to voice, both in work of famous authors and in my own writing. In Part II of my dissertation, I present the creative portion of my work. Part II contains seven works of short fiction, titled "Among Waitresses," "The Lion Tamer," "Restoration Services," "Hospitality," "Blood Relation," "Managerial Timber," and "Velma A Cappella." Each work develops a voice-driven narrative through the use of flavor, tone, and content. Also, two nonfiction essays, titled "Fentanyl and Happy Meals" and "Tracks," close out the collection. "Fentanyl and Happy Meals" describes the impact of methamphetamine addiction on family relationships, while "Tracks" focuses on the degradation of the natural world by human waste and other forms of pollution. In total, this collection demonstrates my approach to both scholarly and creative writing, and I am grateful for the University of North Texas for the opportunity to develop academically and achieve my goals.
- Animals-as-Trope in the Selected Fiction of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison
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In this dissertation, I show how 20th century African-American women writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison utilize animals-as-trope in order to illustrate the writers' humanity and literary vision. In the texts that I have selected, I have found that animals-as-trope functions in two important ways: the first function of animal as trope is a pragmatic one, which serves to express the humanity of African Americans; and the second function of animal tropes in African-American women's fiction is relational and expresses these writers' "ethic of caring" that stems from their folk and womanist world view. Found primarily in slave narratives and in domestic fiction of the 19th and early 20th centuries, pragmatic animal metaphors and/or similes provide direct analogies between the treatment of African-Americans and animals. Here, these writers often engage in rhetoric that challenges pro-slavery apologists, who attempted to disprove the humanity of African-Americans by portraying them as animals fit to be enslaved. Animals, therefore, become the metaphor of both the abolitionist and the slavery apologist for all that is not human. The second function of animals-as-trope in the fiction of African-American women writers goes beyond the pragmatic goal of proving African-Americans's common humanity, even though one could argue that this goal is still present in contemporary African-American fiction. Animals-as-trope also functions to express the African-American woman writer's understanding that 1) all oppressions stem from the same source; 2) that the division between nature/culture is a false onethat a universal connection exists between all living creatures; and 3) that an ethic of caring, or relational epistemology, can be extended to include non-human animals. Twentieth-century African-American writers such as Hurston, Walker, and Morrison participate in what anthropologists term, "neototemism," which is the contemporary view that humankind is part of nature, or a vision that Morrison would most likely attribute to the "folk." This perspective places their celebration of the continuous relations between humans and animals within a spiritual, indeed, tribal, cosmological construction. What makes these particular writers primarily different from their literary mothers, however, is a stronger sense that they are reclaiming the past, both an African and African-American history. What I hope to contribute with this dissertation is a new perspective of African-American women writers' literary tradition via their usage of animals as an expression of their "ethic of caring" and their awareness that all oppression stems from a single source.
- Anne Brontë's New Women: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as Precursors of New Woman Fiction
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Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were published more than forty years before the appearance of the feminist type that the Victorians called the “New Woman;” yet, both novels contain characteristics of New Woman fiction. By considering how Brontë's novels foreshadow New Woman fiction, the reader of these novels can re-enact the “gentlest” Brontë as an influential feminist whose ideology informed the construction of the radical New Woman. Brontë, like the New Woman writers, incorporated autobiographical dilemmas into her fiction. By using her own experiences as a governess, Brontë constructs Agnes Grey's incongruent social status and a morally corrupt gentry and aristocracy through her depiction of not only Agnes's second employers, the Murrays, but also the morally debauched world that Helen enters upon her marriage to Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Moreover, Brontë incorporates her observations of Branwell's alcoholism and her own religious beliefs into The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Although Brontë's novels contain autobiographical material, her heroines are fictional constructions that she uses to engage her readers with the woman question. Brontë accomplishes this engagement through her heroines' narrative re-enactments of fictional autobiographical dilemmas. Helen's diary and Agnes's diary-based narrative produce the pattern of development of the Bildungsroman and foreshadow the New Woman novelists' Kunstlerromans. Brontë's heroines anticipate the female artist as the protagonist of the New Woman Kunstlerromans. Agnes and Helen both invade the masculine domain of economic motive and are feminists who profess gender definitions that conflict with dominant Victorian ideology. Agnes questions her own femininity by internalizing the governess's status incongruence, and Helen's femininity is questioned by those around her. The paradoxical position of both heroines anticipates the debate about the nature and function of art in which the New Woman writers engaged. Through her reconciliation of the aesthetic and the political, Brontë, like the New Woman novelists who will follow, explores the contradiction between art and activism.
- This dissertation contains two parts: Part I, which discusses the elegy of possessive intent, a subgenre of the contemporary American elegy; and Part II, Antigravity, a collection of poems. English elegies have been closely rooted to a specific grief, making the poems closer to occasional poems. The poet—or at least the poet’s speaker—seeks some kind of public consolation for (often) a private loss. The Americanized form does stray from the traditional elegy yet retains some of its characteristics. Some American elegies memorialize failed romantic relationships rather than the dead. In their memorials, these speakers seek a completion for the lack the broken relationship has created in the speakers’ lives. What they can’t replace, they substitute with something personal. As the contemporary poem becomes further removed from tradition, it’s no surprise that the elegy has evolved as well. Discussions of elegies have never ventured into the type of elegy that concerns itself with the sort of unacknowledged loss found in some contemporary American poems of unrequited love. These poems all have speakers who willfully refuse to acknowledge the loss of their love-objects and strive to maintain control/ownership of their beloveds even in the face of rejection.
- Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Hell: the Rhetoric of Universality in Bessie Head
- This dissertation approaches the work of South African/Botswanan novelist Bessie Head, especially the novel A Question of Power, as positioned within the critical framework of the postcolonial paradigm, the genius of which accommodates both African and African American literature without recourse to racial essentialism. A central problematic of postcolonial literary criticism is the ideological stance postcolonial authors adopt with respect to the ideology of the metropolis, whether on the one hand the stances they adopt are collusive, or on the other oppositional. A key contested concept is that of universality, which has been widely regarded as a witting or unwitting tool of the metropolis, having the effect of denigrating the colonial subject. It is my thesis that Bessie Head, neither entirely collusive nor oppositional, advocates an Africanist universality that paradoxically eliminates the bias implicit in metropolitan universality.
- Anything Like Us
- Anything Like Us is a collection of poems with a critical introduction. In this introduction, I explore modern alternatives to Romantic and Neo-Romantic lyric expression. I conclude that a contemporary lyric that desires to be, in some fashion, about itself, must exhibit an acceptance of the mediating influences of time and language, while cultivating an inter-subjective point-of-view that does not insist too much on the authority of a single, coherent voice. The poems in Anything Like Us reflect, in both form and content, many of the conclusions advanced in the introduction. Nearly all the poems concern the desire for, and failure to find, meaningful connections in an uncertain world .
- The Apostasy (and Return) of Lenny Gorsuch
- This comic romantic novel engages the question of how the Christianity of the southern, fundamentalist world of the Texas bible belt, finding its primary cultural assumptions about human existence challenged by the more confusing elements of a modern sensibility, a sensibility over-laden with strange-attractors, mechanistic psychologies, relativistic physics and ethics, evolutionary premises, newly proclaimed rights and freedoms, a deterioration in cultural political naivete, and the advent of an increasingly incomprehensible set of technologies, can survive. The "central" character is a young, slightly deformed man raised by his ostensibly "Christian" grandparents who, through a rather odd set of legal circumstances and physical events, not only become wealthy, but somewhat powerful in their immediate community. He finds himself involved with a young woman, raised in an equally "Christian" household, but, as is true of any romantic plot, the relationship between the two is destined, by virtue of circumstance and the meddling of other characters, to struggle and mishap. In the end, the text, in its own fashion, asserts that the Christian impulse can survive the modern era by virtue of one of its central tenets: faith, in the Christian world, is very much the same as life itself, a process of waiting and expecting. Its greatest threat, rather than something intrinsic to the modern period, is perhaps that of the dogmatism and misunderstanding of the characters who most loudly proclaim it to others.
- Asleep in the Arms of God
- A work of creative fiction in the form of a short novel, Asleep in the Arms of God is a limited-omniscient and omniscient narrative describing the experiences of a man named Wafer Roberts, born in Jack County, Texas, in 1900. The novel spans the years from 1900 to 1925, and moves from the Keechi Valley of North Texas, to Fort Worth and then France during World War One, and back again to the Keechi Valley. The dissertation opens with a preface, which examines the form of the novel, and regional and other aspects of this particular work, especially as they relate to the postmodern concern with fragmentation and conditional identity. Wafer confronts in the novel aspects of his own questionable history, which echo the larger concern with exploitative practices including racism, patriarchy, overplanting and overgrazing, and pollution, which contribute to and climax in the postmodern fragmentation. The novel attempts to make a critique of the exploitative rage of Western civilization.
- The Blurred Boundaries between Film and Fiction in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, and Other Selected Works
- This dissertation explores the porous boundaries between Salman Rushdie's fiction and the various manifestations of the filmic vision, especially in Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, and other selected Rushdie texts. My focus includes a chapter on Midnight's Children, in which I analyze the cinematic qualities of the novel's form, content, and structure. In this chapter I formulate a theory of the post-colonial novel which notes the hybridization of Rushdie's fiction, which process reflects a fragmentation and hybridization in Indian culture. I show how Rushdie's book is unique in its use of the novelization of film. I also argue that Rushdie is a narrative trickster. In my second chapter I analyze the controversial The Satanic Verses. My focus is the vast web of allusions to the film and television industries in the novel. I examine the way Rushdie tropes the "spiritual vision" in cinematic terms, thus shedding new light on the controversy involving the religious aspects of the novel which placed Rushdie on the most renowned hit-list of modern times. I also explore the phenomenon of the dream as a kind of interior cinematic experience. My last chapter explores several other instances in Rushdie's works that are influenced by a filmic vision, with specific examples from Haroun and the Sea of Stories, "The Firebird's Nest," and numerous other articles, interviews, and essays involving Rushdie. In my conclusion I discuss some of the emerging similarities between film and the novel, born out of the relatively recent technology of video cassette recorders and players, and I examine the democratizing effects of this relatively new way of seeing.
- Blurring the Lines between Instructor-Led and Online Learning: an evaluation of an online composition curriculum on the bleeding edge
- The contemporary classroom currently faces an evolving world of computer based training, online courses, instructor-led learning and several blended approaches in-between. With the increased presence of computers and communication in every facet of students' lives, students have changed to adapt to the continuous presence of technology in their daily lives. These recent rapid developments have changed the relationship between technology and communication. Indeed, communication and technology have become linked to such a degree that it is difficult to differentiate one from the other, thereby altering our rhetorical situation as instructors. Instructors can no longer deny the presence of technology in the contemporary classroom, much less in the contemporary composition classroom. This case study serves as a post-modern analysis of the technology based blended classroom. A gap exists between what online learning is (being) today and what it is (becoming) tomorrow. This dissertation explores the gap by examining two rich data sources: online visitor navigational patterns and instructor interviews. The fundamental ideas that this text explores are the following: - Web server logs and PHP logs can be analyzed to yield relevant information that assists in the design, architecture, and administration of online and blended learning courses. - Technology in the writing classroom does not necessarily solve traditional problems associated with the composition classroom. Technology is a tool, not a solution. - Technology has changed the rhetorical situation of the composition classroom. As a result, instructors must adapt to the changed rhetorical environment. Via this study, readers will hopefully gain a better understanding of the relatively unexplored margins between instruction, composition and technology paradigms. Instructors, trainers, technical writers, pedagogues, industry and academia alike must step forward to research technology-assisted pedagogy so that they can de-privilege the paradigms that position technology itself as a solution, and move forward toward realistic and real-world expectations for instructors in technology mediated learning environments.
- Body Matters: Gary Snyder, The Self and Ecopoetics
- Gary Snyder has offered, in poems and essays, ways to acknowledge the interrelationships of humans with the more-than-human. He questions common notions of selfness as well as understandings of what it is to be human in relationship to other species and ecosystems, and he offers new paradigms for the relationship between cultures and the ecosystems in which these cultures reside. These new paradigms are rooted in a reevaluation of our attitudes toward our physical bodies which impacts our relationship to the earth and raises new possibilities for an ecological spirituality or philosophy. The sum of Snyder's endeavors is a foundation for an understanding of ecopoetics. Snyder's poem "The Trail is Not a Trail" is an interesting place to begin examining how human perceptions of the self are central to the kinds of relationships that humans believe are possible between our species and everything else. In this poem there is a curious fusion of the speaker and the trail. In fact, with each successive line they become increasingly difficult to separate. The physical self is central to Snyder's poetry because his is a poetry of the self physically rooted in ever-shifting relationship with the biosphere. The relationship of the self to the biosphere in Snyder's poetry also points toward a spiritual experience that can be called ecomysticism, by which I mean the space where new ecological paradigms and mystical understandings of the world overlap. Ecomysticism goes beyond mysticisms that describe a spiritual being longing for supernatural experience while being "unfortunately" trapped in a physical body. Ecomysticism emphasizes the spiritual and physical interrelatedness or interconnectedness of all matter, the human and the more-than-human. The integration of the spiritual and physical aspects of the self is only possible through an awareness of the interrelatedness of the self and the non-human. New paradigms for the self are thus central to ecopoetics, a poetics that seeks to heal the rift between humans and the biosphere.
- A Boy in a Canoe
- The dissertation consists of a collection of personal essays about hunting and fishing. Because the essays are narratives and contain dialogue, characterization, description, themes, etc., they fall under the genre of creative nonfiction. The dissertation has two parts. Part I consists of an essay that discusses the author’s struggle to combine creative nonfiction with outdoor writing and also describes the author’s dilemma of writing about hunting, a topic that is often controversial at the university, while a graduate student. Part II of the dissertation consists of narratives that recount the author’s hunting and fishing experiences that occurred in North Texas and in the mountains of New Mexico. The essays discuss fishing for trout and hunting for deer, wild boars, quail, and duck. Three major themes are developed throughout the dissertation. The first theme describes the close relationship that exists between the author and his father. This closeness is partly due to the time that they have shared during decades of hunting and fishing together. The second theme discusses the ethics of hunting and especially focuses on which methods of hunting are ethical and which methods are not. The third theme explores the complex and sometimes unpleasant interactions that occur between sportsmen when they encounter each other while hunting and fishing. This theme explores the give and take attitude that must exist in order for sportsmen to get along. This attitude is necessary because no two outdoorsmen view the outdoors and hunting and fishing in quite the same way.
- (Broken) Promises
- The dissertation begins with an introductory chapter that examines the short story cycle as a specific genre, outlines tendencies found in minimalist fiction, and discusses proposed definitions of the short story genre. The introduction examines the problems that short story theorists encounter when they try to.define the short story genre in general. Part of the problem results from the lack of a definition of the short story in the Aristotelian sense of a definition. A looser, less traditional definition of literary genres helps solve some of the problem. Minimalist fiction and the short story cycle are discussed as particular forms of the short story. Sixteen short stories follow the introduction.
- The Byronic Hero and the Renaissance Hero-Villain: Analogues and Prototypes
- The purpose of this study is to suggest the influence of certain characters in eighteen works by English Renaissance authors upon the Byronic Hero, that composite figure which emerges from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, the Oriental Tales, the dramas, and some of the shorter poems.
- Calling Up the Dead
- Calling Up the Dead is a collection of seven short stories which all take place over the final hours of December 31, 1999 and the first few hours of January 1, 2000. The themes of time, history, and the reactions toward the new millennium (positive, negative, indifferent) of a variety of cultures are addressed. Each of the six major continents has a story, along with its cultural perspective, delivered by narrators both young and oldthree female, three male and one balcony.
- Can These Bones Live? A Collection of Stories
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The collection concerns itself with race, gender, masculinity, marginalization, the act of violence as a means of self expression, identity and the performance of identity, love, and loss. The collection also uses historical events-more specifically, events that are central to black culture in Northeast, Ohio- to situate the characters and witness their response to these historical events. I strive to illustrate blackness as both political and fragmented with the characters in my collection. My characters believe that what they are doing-exacting violence, abusing women, disrespecting each other- is somehow the normative; that somehow what it is that they have learned is how they should perform black identity.
- Change of Condition: Women's Rhetorical Strategies on Marriage, 1710-1756
- This dissertation examines ways in which women constructed and criticized matrimony both before and after their own marriages. Social historians have argued for the rise of companionacy in the eighteenth century without paying attention to women's accounts of the fears and uncertainties surrounding the prospect of marriage. I argue that having more latitude to choose a husband did not diminish the enormous impact that the choice would have on the rest of a woman's life; if anything, choice might increase that impact. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Hester Mulso Chapone, Mary Delany, and Eliza Haywood recorded their anxieties about and their criticisms of marriage in public and private writings from the early years of the century into the 1750s. They often elide their own complex backgrounds in favor of generalized policy statements on what constitutes a good marriage. These women promote an ideal of marriage based on respect and similarity of character, suggesting that friendship is more honest, and durable than romantic love. This definition of ideal marriage enables these women to argue for more egalitarian marital relationships without overtly calling for a change in the wife's traditional role. The advancement of this ideal of companionacy gave women a means of promoting gender equality in marriage at a time when they considered marriage risky but socially and economically necessary.
- Chaucer and the Rhetorical Limits of Exemplary Literature
- Though much has been made of Chaucer's saintly characters, relatively little has been made of Chaucer's approach to hagiography. While strictly speaking Chaucer produced only one true saint's life (the Second Nun's Tale), he was repeatedly intrigued and challenged by exemplary literature. The few studies of Chaucer's use of hagiography have tended to claim either his complete orthodoxy as hagiographer, or his outright parody of the genre. My study mediates the orthodoxy/parody split by viewing Chaucer as a serious, but self-conscious, hagiographer, one who experimented with the possibilities of exemplary narrative and explored the rhetorical tensions intrinsic to the genre, namely the tensions between transcendence and imminence, reverence and identification, and epideictic and deliberative discourse.
- Children and Childhood in Hawthorne's Fiction
- This paper explores the role of children and childhood in Nathaniel Hawthorne's fiction. Moreover, it asserts that the child and childhood are keys to a better understanding of Hawthorne's fiction.
- Corporate Christians and Terrible Turks: Economics, Aesthetics, and the Representation of Empire in the Early British Travel Narrative, 1630 - 1780
- This dissertation examines the evolution of the early English travel narrative as it relates to the development and application of mercantilist economic practices, theories of aesthetic representation, and discourses of gender and narrative authority. I attempt to redress an imbalance in critical work on pre-colonialism and colonialism, which has tended to focus either on the Renaissance, as exemplified by the works of critics such as Stephen Greenblatt and John Gillies, or on the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as in the work of scholars such as Srinivas Aravamudan and Edward Said. This critical gap has left early travel narratives by Sir Francis Moore, Jonathan Harris, Penelope Aubin, and others largely neglected. These early writers, I argue, adapted the conventions of the travel narrative while relying on the authority of contemporary commercial practices. The early English travelers modified contemporary conventions of aesthetic representation by formulating their descriptions of non-European cultures in terms of the economic and political conventions and rivalries of the early eighteenth century. Early English travel literature, I demonstrate, functioned as a politically motivated medium that served both as a marker of authenticity, justifying the colonial and imperial ventures that would flourish in the nineteenth century, and as a forum for experimentation with English notions of gender and narrative authority.
- Damned good daughter.
- My dissertation is a memoir based on my childhood experiences growing up with a mentally ill mother. She exhibited violence both passive and aggressive, and the memoir explores my relationship with her and my relationship with the world through her. "Damned Good Daughter" developed with my interest in creative nonfiction as a genre. I came to it after studying poetry, discovering that creative nonfiction offers a form that accommodates both the lyric impulse in poetry and the shaping impulse of story in fiction. In addition, the genre makes a place for the first person I in relation to the order and meaning of a life story. Using reverse chronology, my story begins with the present and regresses toward childhood, revealing the way life experiences with a mentally ill parent build on one another.
- Dark Houses: Navigating Space and Negotiating Silence in the Novels of Faulkner, Warren and Morrison
- Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," as early as 1839, reveals an uneasiness about the space of the house. Most literary scholars accept that this anxiety exists and causes some tension, since it seems antithetical to another dominant motif, that of the power of place and the home as sanctuary. My critical persona, like Poe's narrator in "The House of Usher," looks into a dark, silent tarn and shudders to see in it not only the reflection of the House of Usher, but perhaps the whole of what is "Southern" in Southern Literature. Many characters who inhabit the worlds of Southern stories also inhabit houses that, like the House of Usher, are built on the faulty foundation of an ideological system that divides the world into inside(r)/outside(r) and along numerous other binary lines. The task of constructing the self in spaces that house such ideologies poses a challenge to the characters in the works under consideration in this study, and their success in doing so is dependant on their ability to speak authentically in the language of silence and to dwell instead of to just inhabit interior spaces. In my reading of Faulkner and Warren, this ideology of division is clearly to be at fault in the collapse of houses, just as it is seen to be in the House of Usher. This emphasis is especially conspicuous in several works, beginning with Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! and its (pre)text, "Evangeline." Warren carries the motif forward in his late novels, Flood and Meet Me in the Green Glen. I examine these works relative to spatial analysis and an aesthetic of absence, including an interpretation of silence as a mode of authentic saying. I then discuss these motifs as they are operating in Toni Morrison's Beloved, and finally take Song of Solomon as both an end and a beginning to these texts' concerns with collapsing structures of narrative and house.
- Detecting masculinity: The positive masculine qualities of fictional detectives.
- Detective fiction highlights those qualities of masculinity that are most valuable to a contemporary culture. In mysteries a cultural context is more thoroughly revealed than in any other genre of literature. Through the crimes, an audience can understand not only the fears of a particular society but also the level of calumny that society assigns to a crime. As each generation has needed a particular set of qualities in its defense, so the detective has provided them. Through the detective's response to particular crimes, the reader can learn the delineation of forgivable and unforgivable acts. These detectives illustrate positive masculinity, proving that fiction has more uses than mere entertainment. In this paper, I trace four detectives, each from a different era. Sherlock Holmes lives to solve problems. His primary function is to solve a riddle. Lord Peter Wimsey takes on the moral question of why anyone should detect at all. His stories involve the difficulty of justifying putting oneself in the morally superior position of judge. The Mike Hammer stories treat the difficulty of dealing with criminals who use the law to protect themselves. They have perverted the protections of society, and Hammer must find a way to bring them to justice outside of the law. The Kate Martinelli stories focus more on the victims of crime than on the criminals. Martinelli discovers the motivations that draw a criminal toward a specific victim and explains what it is about certain victims that makes villains want to harm them. All of these detectives display the traditional traits of the Western male. They are hunters; they protect society as a whole. Yet each detective fulfills a certain cultural role that speaks to the specific problems of his or her era, proving that masculinity is a more fluid role than many have previously credited.
- "Distance" and Other Stories
- "Distance" and Other Stories is a collection of four short stories and a novella that explore the themes of isolation and personal revelation. The dissertation opens with a preface which describes my background as a writer and the forces that shape my work, including science fiction, technology and the internet, cultural marginalization, and Joseph Campbell's hero's motif.
- Distorted traditions: The use of the grotesque in the short fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, and Bobbie Ann Mason.
- This dissertation argues that the four writers named above use the grotesque to illustrate the increasingly peculiar consequences of the assault of modernity on traditional Southern culture. The basic conflict between the views of Bakhtin and Kayser provides the foundation for defining the grotesque herein, and Geoffrey Harpham's concept of "margins" helps to define interior and exterior areas for the discussion. Chapter 1 lays a foundation for why the South is different from other regions of America, emphasizing the influences of Anglo-Saxon culture and traditions brought to these shores by the English gentlemen who settled the earliest tidewater colonies as well as the later influx of Scots-Irish immigrants (the Celtic-Southern thesis) who settled the Piedmont and mountain regions. This chapter also notes that part of the South's peculiarity derives from the cultural conflicts inherent between these two groups. Chapters 2 through 5 analyze selected short fiction from each of these respective authors and offer readings that explain how the grotesque relates to the drastic social changes taking place over the half-century represented by these authors. Chapter 6 offers an evaluation of how and why such traditions might be preserved. The overall argument suggests that traditional Southern culture grows out of four foundations, i. e., devotion to one's community, devotion to one's family, devotion to God, and love of place. As increasing modernization and homogenization impact the South, these cultural foundations have been systematically replaced by unsatisfactory or confusing substitutes, thereby generating something arguably grotesque. Through this exchange, the grotesque has moved from the observably physical, as shown in the earlier works discussed, to something internalized that is ultimately depicted through a kind of intellectual if not physical stasis, as shown through the later works.
- East, West, Somewhere in the Middle
- A work of creative fiction in novella form, this dissertation follows the first-person travails of Mitch Zeller, a 26-year-old gay man who is faced with an unexpected choice. The dissertation opens with a preface which examines the form of the novella and the content of this particular work.
- The Elusive Mother in William Faulkner's Major Yoknapatawpha Families
- Families in much of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha fiction are built upon traditional patriarchal structure with the father as head and provider and the mother or mother figure in charge of keeping the home and raising the children. Even though the roles appear to be clearly defined and observed, the families decline and disintegrate.
- Ethics in Technical Communication: Historical Context for the Human Radiation Experiments
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To illustrate the intersection of ethical language and ethical frameworks within technical communication, this dissertation analyzes the history and documentation of the human radiation experiments of the 1940s through the 1970s. Research propositions included clarifying the link between medical documentation and technical communication by reviewing the literature that links the two disciplines from the ancient period to the present; establishing an appropriate historiography for the human radiation experiments by providing a context of the military, political, medical, and rhetorical milieu of the 1940s to the 1970s; closely examining and analyzing actual human radiation experiment documentation, including proposals, letters, memos, and consent forms, looking for established rhetorical constructions that indicate a document adheres to or diverts from specific ethical frameworks; and suggesting the importance of the human radiation documents for studying ethics in technical communication. Close rhetorical analysis of the documents included with this project reveals consistent patterns of metadiscourse, passive and nominal writing styles, and other rhetorical constructions, including negative language, redundancies, hedges, and intensifiers, that could lead a reader to misunderstand the writer's original ethical purpose. Ultimately this project finds that technical communicators cannot classify language itself as ethical or unethical; the language is simply the framework with which the experimenters construct their arguments and communicate their work. Technical communicators can, however, consider the ethical nature of behavior according to specific ethical frameworks and determine whether language contributes to the behavior.
- Everything and Nothing at the Same Time
- This paradoxically titled collection of poems explores what the blues and blindness has come to mean to the author.
- The Evolution of AIDS as Subject Matter in Select American Dramas
- Dramatic works from America with AIDS as subject matter have evolved over the past twenty years. In the early 1980s, dramas like Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, William Hoffman's As Is, and Robert Chesley's Night Sweat educated primarily homosexual men about AIDS, its causes, and its effects on the gay community while combating the dominant discourse promoted by the media, government, and medical establishments that AIDS was either unimportant because it affected primarily the homosexual population or because it was attributed to lack of personal responsibility. By the mid-eighties and early nineties, playwrights Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!)and Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey)concentrated on relationships between sero-discordant homosexual couples. McNally's "Andre's Mother" and Lips Together, Teeth Apart explored how families and friends face the loss of a loved one to AIDS. Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America epic represents living beyond AIDS as a powerful force. Without change and progress, Angels warns, life stagnates. Angels also introduces the powerful drugs that help alleviate the symptoms of AIDS. AIDS is the centerpiece of the epic, and AIDS and homosexuality are inextricably blended in the play. Rent, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by Jonathan Larson, features characters from an assortment of ethnic and social backgrounds - including heterosexuals, homosexuals, bi-sexuals, some with AIDS, some AIDS-free, some drug users - all living through the diverse troubles visited upon them at the turn of the millennium in the East Village of New York City. AIDS is not treated as "special," nor are people with AIDS pandered to. Instead, the characters take what life gives them, and they live fully, because there is "no day but today" ("Finale"). Rent's audiences are as varied as the American population, because it portrays metaphorically what so many Americans face daily - not AIDS per se, but other difficult life problems, including self-alienation. As such, Rent defies the dominant discourse because the community portrayed in Rent is the American community.
- The Evolution of Survival as Theme in Contemporary Native American Literature: from Alienation to Laughter
- With the publication of his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn. N. Scott Momaday ended a three-decade hiatus in the production of works written by Native American writers, and contributed to the renaissance of a rich literature. The critical acclaim that the novel received helped to establish Native American literature as a legitimate addition to American literature at large and inspired other Native Americans to write. Contemporary Native American literature from 1969 to 1974 focuses on the themes of the alienated mixed-blood protagonist and his struggle to survive, and the progressive return to a forgotten or rejected Indian identity. For example, works such as Leslie Silko's Ceremony and James Welch's Winter in the Blood illustrate this dual focal point. As a result, scholarly attention on these works has focused on the theme of struggle to the extent that Native American literature can be perceived as necessarily presenting victimized characters. Yet, Native American literature is essentially a literature of survival and continuance, and not a literature of defeat. New writers such as Louise Erdrich, Hanay Geiogamah, and Simon Ortiz write to celebrate their Indian heritage and the survival of their people, even though they still use the themes of alienation and struggle. The difference lies in what they consider to be the key to survival: humor. These writers posit that in order to survive, Native Americans must learn to laugh at themselves and at their fate, as well as at those who have victimized them through centuries of oppression. Thus, humor becomes a coping mechanism that empowers Native Americans and brings them from survival to continuance.
- Female Inheritors of Hawthorne's New England Literary Tradition
- Nineteenth-century women were a mainstay in the New England literary tradition, both as readers and authors. Indeed, women were a large part of a growing reading public, a public that distanced itself from Puritanism and developed an appetite for novels and magazine short stories. It was a culture that survived in spite of patriarchal domination of the female in social and literary status. This dissertation is a study of selected works from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman that show their fiction as a protest against a patriarchal society. The premise of this study is based on analyzing these works from a protest (not necessarily a feminist) view, which leads to these conclusions: rejection of the male suitor and of marriage was a protest against patriarchal institutions that purposely restricted females from realizing their potential. Furthermore, it is often the case that industrialism and abuses of male authority in selected works by Jewett and Freeman are symbols of male-driven forces that oppose the autonomy of the female. Thus my argument is that protest fiction of the nineteenth century quietly promulgates an agenda of independence for the female. It is an agenda that encourages the woman to operate beyond standard stereotypes furthered by patriarchal attitudes. I assert that Jewett and Freeman are, in fact, inheritors of Hawthorne's literary tradition, which spawned the first fully-developed, independent American heroine: Hester Prynne.
- The Feminine Ancestral Footsteps: Symbolic Language Between Women in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables
- This study examines Hawthorne's use of symbols, particularly flowers, in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Romantic ideals stressed the full development of the self¬reliant individual, and romantic writers such as Hawthorne believed the individual would fully develop not only spiritually, but also intellectually by taking instruction from the natural world. Hawthorne's heroines reach their full potential as independent women in two steps: they first work together to defeat powerful patriarchies, and they then learn to read natural symbols to cultivate their artistic sensibilities which lead them to a full development of their intellect and spirituality. The focus of this study is Hawthorne's narrative strategy; how the author uses symbols as a language his heroines use to communicate from one generation to the next. In The Scarlet Letter, for instance, the symbol of a rose connects three generations of feminine reformers, Ann Hutchinson, Hester Prynne, and Pearl. By the end of the novel, Pearl interprets a rose as a symbol of her maternal line, which links her back to Ann Hutchinson. Similarly in The House of the Seven Gables Alice, Hepzibah, and Phoebe Pyncheon are part of a family line of women who work together to overthrow the Pyncheon patriarchy. The youngest heroine, Phoebe, comes to an understanding of her great, great aunt Alice's message from the posies her feminine ancestor plants in the Pyncheon garden. Through Phoebe's interpretation of the flowers, she deciphers how the cultivation of a sense of artistic appreciation is essential to the progress of American culture.
- The Fictional World of Rolando Hinojosa
- Rolando Hinojosa's Klail Citv Death Trip Series purports to give a picture of life in the Texas Rio Grande Valley from roughly the 1930s to the present. Much of Hinojosa's attention is directed toward the tensions that characterize relations between the mexicano and Anglo cultures. Hinojosa's novel sequence in large part documents the ever-increasing acculturation and assimilation of the mexicano into Anglo society.
- Fictionalized Indian English Speech and the Representations of Ideology in Indian Novels in English
- I investigate the spoken dialogue of four Indian novels in English: Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935), Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan (1956), Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan's The World of Nagaraj (1990), and Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters (2002). Roger Fowler has said that literature, as a form of discourse, articulates ideology; it is through linguistic criticism (combination of literary criticism and linguistic analyses) that the ideologies in a literary text are uncovered. Shobhana Chelliah in her study of Indian novels in English concludes that the authors use Indian English (IndE) as a device to characterize buffoons and villains. Drawing upon Fowler's and Chelliah's framework, my investigation employs linguistic criticism of the four novels to expose the ideologies reflected in the use of fictionalized English in the Indian context. A quantitative inquiry based on thirty-five IndE features reveals that the authors appropriate these features, either to a greater or lesser degree, to almost all their characters, suggesting that IndE functions as the mainstream variety in these novels and creating an illusion that the authors are merely representing the characters' unique Indian worldviews. But within this dialect range, the appropriation of higher percentages of IndE features to specific characters or groups of characters reveal the authors' manipulation of IndE as a counter-realist and ideological device to portray deviant and defective characters. This subordinating of IndE as a substandard variety of English functions as the dominant ideology in my investigation of the four novels. Nevertheless, I also uncover the appropriation of a higher percentage of IndE features to foreground the masculinity of specific characters and to heighten the quintessentially traditional values of the older Brahmin generation, which justifies a contesting ideology about IndE that elevates it as the prestigious variety, not an aberration. Using an approach which combines literary criticism with linguistic analysis, I map and recommend a multidisciplinary methodology, which allows for a reevaluation of fictionalized IndE speech that goes beyond impressionistic analyses.
- The Fifth Humor: Ink, Texts, and the Early Modern Body
- This dissertation tracks the intimate relationship between writing and the body to add new dimensions to humoral criticism and textual studies of Renaissance literature. Most humor theory focuses on the volatile, permeable nature of the body, and its vulnerability to environmental stimuli, neglecting the important role that written texts play in this economy of fluids. I apply the principles of humor theory to the study of handwritten and printed texts. This approach demonstrates that the textual economy of the period—reading, writing, publishing, exchanging letters, performing all of the above on stage—mirrors the economy of fluids that governed the humoral body. Early modern readers and writers could imagine textual activities not only as cerebral, abstract concepts, but also as sexual activities, as processes of ingestion and regurgitation. My study of ink combines humoral, historical materialist, and ecocritical modes of study. Materialist critics have examined the quill, paper, and printing press as metaphors for the body; however, the ink within them remains unexamined. This dissertation infuses the figurative body of the press with circulating passions, and brings to bear the natural, biochemical properties that ink lends to the texts it creates. Considering the influence of written and printed materials on the body in early modern poetry and drama requires consideration of the murky liquid from which these texts were composed. For early moderns, writing began with the precise, anatomical slicing of a goose feather, with the crushing of oak galls into wine or rainwater, with the application of heat and ferrous sulfate. These raw materials underwent a violent transformation to fill early modern inkwells. As a result of that mystical concoction, the fluid inside these vessels became humoral. The ink on a page represented one person's passions potentially invading the body of another. Therefore, ink serves as more than a metaphor for any particular humor. Pen and paper work as extensions of the body, and serve at turns as a mechanism of balance or imbalance.
- Gender and Desire in Thomas Lovell Beddoes' The Brides' Tragedy and Death's Jest-Book
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Thomas Lovell Beddoes' female dramatic characters are, for the most part, objectified and static, but these passive women perform a crucial narrative and thematic function in the plays. Alongside the destructive activity of the male characters, they dramatize masculine-feminine unions as idealized and contrived and, thus, unstable. Desire, power and influence, as well as the constrictive aspects of physicality, all become gendered concepts in Beddoes' plays, and socially normative relationships between men and women, including heterosexual courtship and marriage, are scrutinized and found wanting. In The Brides' Tragedy, Floribel and Olivia, the eponymous brides, represent archetypes of innocence, purity, and Romantic nature. Their bridegroom, Hesperus, embodies Romantic masculinity, desiring the feminine and aspiring to androgyny, but ultimately unable to relinquish masculine power. The consequences of Hesperus' attempts to unite with the feminine other are the destruction of that other and of himself, with no hope for the spiritual union in death that the Romantic Hesperus espouses as his ultimate desire. Death's Jest-Book expands upon the theme of male-female incompatibility, presenting heterosexual relationships in the context of triangulated desire. The erotic triangles created by Melveric, Sibylla, and Wolfram and Athulf, Amala, and Adalmar are inherently unstable, because they depend upon the rivalries between the males. Once those rivalries end, with the deaths of Wolfram and Athulf, respectively, Sibylla and Amala fade into nothing, their function as conduits for male homosocial relations at an end. In effect, these failed heterosexual triangles function as a backdrop for the idealized relationship between Melveric and Wolfram, whose desire for each other is mediated through their common pursuit of Sibylla, as well as through their blood-brotherhood. Once Wolfram's physical masculinity is deferred through death, the mixing of his ashes with those of Melveric's dead wife, and reanimation, Melveric and Wolfram descend into the tomb together, united for eternity.
- The Gender of Time in the Eighteenth-century English Novel
- This study takes a structuralist approach to the development of the novel, arguing that eighteenth-century writers build progressive narrative by rendering abstract, then conflating, literary theories of gendered time that originate in the Renaissance with seventeenth-century scientific theories of motion. I argue that writers from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century generate and regulate progress-as-product in their narratives through gendered constructions of time that corresponded to the generation and regulation of economic, political, and social progress brought about by developing capitalism.
- God's Perfect Timing
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When I was thirty-three years old, I discovered I was an adoptee. In this memoir of secrecy and love, betrayal and redemption, I reflect on my early experiences as a doted-on only child firmly rooted in the abundant love of my adoptive family, my later struggles with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, my marriage to a fellow-adoptee, my discovery of my own adoption and the subsequent reunion with my birth family, my navigation through the thrills and tensions of newly complicated family dynamics, and my witness to God's perfect timing through it all.
- Happiness Is a By-Product of Function: William Burroughs and the American Pragmatist Tradition
- This dissertation examines the techniques and themes of William Burroughs by placing him in the American Pragmatist tradition. Chapter One presents a pragmatic critical approach to literature based on Richard Rorty and John Dewey, focusing on the primacy of narration over argumentation, redescription and dialectic, the importance of texts as experiences, the end-products of textual experiences, and the role of critic as guide to experience rather than judge. Chapter Two uses this pragmatic critical lens to focus on the writing techniques of William Burroughs as a part of the American Pragmatist tradition, with most of the focus on his controversial cut-up technique. Burroughs is a writer who upsets many of the traditional expectations of the literary writing community, just as Rorty challenges the conventions of the philosophical discourse community. Chapter Three places Burroughs within a liberal democratic tradition with respect to Rorty and John Stuart Mill. Burroughs is a champion of individual liberty; this chapter shows how Burroughs' works are meant to edify readers about the social, political, biological, and technological systems which work to control individuals and limit their liberties and understandings. The chapter also shows how Burroughs' works help liberate readers from all control systems, and examines the alternative societies he envisions which work to uphold, rather than subvert, the freedom of human beings. Chapter Four concludes by suggesting some of the implications of Burroughs' work in literature, society, and politics, and by showing the value and importance of Pragmatism to the study of American literature and culture.
- The Human Body is Not Designed for Ambivalence: Odes
- The critical analysis section of this dissertation seeks to define the ode using examples in translation from Greek and Latin odes and examples in English written from the 1500s to the 2000s. Although most definitions of the ode contend that this subgenre of the lyric is an occasional poem of praise that includes a meditative or mythological element, the ode is far more complex. An ode is an occasional poem, but it works to privilege rather than strictly praise its subject, allowing for the speaker's ambivalence toward the subject. Meditation is a key element of the ode, since the poet uses the subject as a means for moving to the meditation or as a conduit through which the meditation occurs. The meditation in the poem is also a way for the poet or speaker to negotiate the relationship between the subject and herself; thus, the ode is concerned with power, since the poet must place herself or the speaker in relation to the subject. Power thus may be granted to either the speaker or the subject; the poet names and speaks of the subject, and often the poet names and speaks of himself in relation to the subject. Additionally, odes usually contain some exhortation, generally directed to the subject if not to those surrounding the reader or capable of "listening in" to the performance of the poem. This definition, it should be noted, is intended to be fluid. In order for a poem to be relevant to its age, it must either adhere to or usefully challenge the contemporary concerns. Thus, while many of the odes discussed will contain the elements of this definition, others will work against the definition. In the remainder of the introduction, I examine ancient models and twentieth- and twenty-first century examples of the ode as a means of exploring what an ode is and how it can undermine the elements of the definition and still work as a poem of this subgenre. In the second section of the dissertation are lyric poems, many of which fit in varying degrees the definition laid out in the critical analysis.
- Idea of Natural Law in Milton's Comus and Paradise Lost
- This dissertation tries to locate Milton's optimistic view of man and nature as expressed in Comus, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, and Paradise Lost in the long tradition of natural law that goes back to Aristotle, Cicero, and Aquinas.
- Imagining The Reader: Vernacular Representation and Specialized Vocabulary in Medieval English Literature
- William Langland's The Vision of Piers Plowman was probably the first medieval English poem to achieve a national audience because Langland chose to write in the vernacular and he used the specialized vocabularies of his readership to open the poem to them. During the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, writers began using the vernacular in an attempt to allow all English people access to their texts. They did so consciously, indicating their intent in prologues and envois when they formally address readers. Some writers, like Langland and the author of Mankind, actually use representatives of the rural classes as primary characters who exhibit the beliefs and lives of the rural population. Anne Middleton's distinction between public-the readership an author imagined-and audience-the readership a work achieved-allows modern critics to discuss both public and audience and try to determine how the two differed. While the public is always only a presumption, the language in which an author writes and the cultural events depicted by the literature can provide a more plausible estimate of the public. The vernacular allowed authors like Gower, Chaucer, the author of Mankind, and Langland to use the specialized vocabularies of the legal and rural communities to discuss societal problems. They also use representatives of the communities to further open the texts to a vernacular public. These open texts provide some representation for the rural and common people's ideas about the other classes to be heard. Langland in particular uses the specialized vocabularies and representative characters to establish both the faults of all English people and a common guide they can follow to seek moral lives through Truth. His rural character, Piers the Plowman, allows rural readers to identify with the messages in the text while showing upper class and educated readers that they too can emulate a rural character who sets a moral standard.
- An Investigation of the Semantics of Active and Inverse Systems
- This study surveys pronominal reference marking in active and inverse languages. Active and inverse languages have in common that they distinguish two sets of reference marking, which are referred to as Actor and Undergoer. The choice of one series of marking over another is shown to be semantically and pragmatically determined.