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 Degree Discipline: English
 Degree Level: Master's
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Across Borders and Barlines: Chicana/o Literature, Jazz Improvisation, and Contrapuntal Solidarity

Across Borders and Barlines: Chicana/o Literature, Jazz Improvisation, and Contrapuntal Solidarity

Date: May 2014
Creator: Leal, Jonathan J.
Description: In this study, I examine Chicana/o writings and Black and Brown musical traditions as they entwine in urban centers and inform local visions of inclusion and models of social change. By analyzing literature and music from South Texas, Southern California, and Northeastern Michigan, I detail how the social particularities of each zone inform Chicana/o cultural productions rooted in the promise of empowerment and the possibility of cross-cultural solidarity. I assert that highlighting localized variations on these themes amplifies contrapuntal solidarities specific to each region, the relationship between different, locally conceived conceptions of Chicana/o identity, and the interplay between Brown and Black aesthetic practices in urban centers near national borders. Through literary critical and ethnomusicological frameworks, I engage the rhetorical patterns that link poetry, jazz improvisation, essays, musical playlists, and corridos to illumine a web of discourses helping to establish the idiosyncratic yet complimentary cultural mores that shape localized social imaginaries in the United States.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry

Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry

Date: May 2014
Creator: Ward, Jessica D.
Description: This study explores how four medieval poems—the Junius manuscript’s Genesis B and Christ and Satan and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Parliament of Fowls—engage with medieval conjugal rights through their depictions of agentive female protagonists. Although many laws at this time sought to suppress the rights of women, especially those of wives’, both pre- and post-conquest poets illustrate women who act as subjects, exercising legal rights. Medieval canon and common law supported a certain amount of female agency in marriage but was not consistent in its understanding of what that was. By considering the shifts in law from Anglo-Saxon and fourteenth century England in relation to wives’ rights and female consent, my project asserts that the authors of Genesis B and Christ and Satan and the late-medieval poet Chaucer position their heroines to defend legislation that supports female agency in matters of marriage. The Anglo-Saxon authors do so by conceiving of Eve’s role in the Fall and harrowing of hell as similar to the legal role of a forespeca. Through Eve’s mimesis of Satan’s rhetoric, she is able to reveal an alternate way of conceiving of the law as merciful instead of legalistic. Chaucer also engages with a ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners

Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners

Date: May 2014
Creator: Heister, Iven Lucas
Description: In James Joyce criticism, and by implication Irish and modernist studies, the word paralysis has a very insular meaning. The word famously appears in the opening page of Dubliners, in “The Sisters,” which predated the collection’s 1914 publication by ten years, and in a letter to his publisher Grant Richards. The commonplace conception of the word is that it is a metaphor that emanates from the literal fact of the Reverend James Flynn’s physical condition the narrator recalls at the beginning of “The Sisters.” As a metaphor, paralysis has signified two immaterial, or spiritual, states: one individual or psychological and the other collective or social. The assumption is that as a collective and individual signifier, paralysis is the thing from which Ireland needs to be freed. Rather than relying on this received tradition of interpretation and assumptions about the term, I consider that paralysis is a two-sided term. I argue that paralysis is a problem and a solution and that sometimes what appears to be an escape from paralysis merely reinforces its negative manifestation. Paralysis cannot be avoided. Rather, it is something that should be engaged and used to redefine individual and social states.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture

Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture

Date: May 2014
Creator: Gray, Jezy J.
Description: This study explores intersections between performance, race and masculinity within a variety of expressive cultural contexts during and after the African American Civil Rights Movement. I maintain that the work of James Baldwin is best situated to help us navigate this cross section, as his fiction and cultural criticism focus heavily on the stage in all its incarnations as a space for negotiating the possibilities and limits of expressive culture in combating harmful racial narratives imposed upon black men in America. My thesis begins with a close reading of the performers populating his story collection Going to Meet the Man (1965) before broadening my scope in the following chapters to include analyses of the diametric masculinities in the world of professional boxing and the black roots of the American punk movement. Engaging with theorists like Judith Butler, bell hooks and Paul Gilroy, Underground Men attempts to put these seemingly disparate corners of American life into a dynamic conversation that broadens our understanding through a novel application of critical race, gender and performance theories. Baldwin and his orbiting criticism remain the hub of my investigation throughout, and I use his template of black genius performance outlined in works like Tell Me ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Mr Secrets and Social Media:  the Confession of Richard Rodriguez

Mr Secrets and Social Media: the Confession of Richard Rodriguez

Date: May 2013
Creator: Burns, Amanda Jill
Description: Richard Rodriguez's works create troubling situations for many scholars. Though numerous critics see him as the penultimate Chicano writer, many others see his writing as only pandering to the elite. However, all politics and controversies aside, he is a writer whose ideas upon language and public confession have been revolutionary. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Rodriguez's ideas upon language and identity are applicable to the social media landscape that we reside in currently, especially the public confession. Also, I use deconstructionism, along with postmodern criticism, to illustrate the changing arc of Rodriguez's confession from his first autobiography to his final one. In his first memoir, Rodriguez remains in the closet upon his sexuality, and the reader only catches glimpses of the 'real' character inside his work. In the second memoir, the reader sees a better glimpse because of his coming out; yet, even in this regard, he does not do so wholly and still leaves his confession unfinished. By the third, he applies themes and problems seen in his first and second works to discuss our browning nature, and how we are all sinners and that we desire to confess our sins. In my assessment of Rodriguez, I argue ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Date: May 2012
Creator: Tolle, Andrew
Description: This study explores Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s use of the dramatic form to challenge Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism by offering feminist adaptations of Darwin’s theories of natural and sexual selection. As she does in her career-defining manifesto, Women & Economics (1898), Gilman in her lesser-known plays deploys her own brand of reform Darwinism to serve the feminist cause. Despite her absence in histories of modern drama, Gilman actively participated in the establishment and development of this literary, historical, and cultural movement. After situating Gilman in the context of nineteenth-century naturalist theater, this thesis examines two short dramatic dialogues she published in 1890, “The Quarrel,” and “Dame Nature Interviewed,” as well as two full-length plays, Interrupted (1909) and the Balsam Fir (1910). These plays demonstrate Gilman’s efforts to use the dramatic form in her early plays to “rehearse” for Women & Economics, and in her later drama, to “stage” the theories she presents in that book.
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Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Date: December 2011
Creator: Tatum, Brian Shane
Description: This thesis investigates the similarities in the study of time and space in literature and science during the modern period. Specifically, it focuses on the portrayal of time and space within Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1899-1900), and compares the ideas presented with those later scientifically formulated by Albert Einstein in his special and general theories of relativity (1905-1915). Although both novels precede Einstein’s theories, they reveal advanced complex ideas of time and space very similar to those later argued by the iconic physicist. These ideas follow a linear progression including a sense of temporal dissonance, the search for a communal sense of the present, the awareness and expansion of the individual’s sense of the present, and the effect of mass on surrounding space. This approach enhances readings of Dracula and Lord Jim, illuminating the fascination with highly refined notions of time and space within modern European culture.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Date: August 2011
Creator: Burns, Anthony Louis
Description: The interjection of a new and dynamically different reading of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is imperative, if scholars want to clearly see many of the hidden facets of the novel that have gone unexamined because of out-dated scholarship. Ian Watt’s assumption that Sterne “would probably have been the supreme figure among eighteenth-century novelists” (291) if he had not tried to be so odd, and the conclusion that he draws, that “Tristram Shandy is not so much a novel as a parody of a novel” (291), is incorrect. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Sterne was not burlesquing other novelists, but instead, was engaging with themes that are now being examined by postmodern theories of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jean François Lyotard: themes like the impenetrability of identity (“Don’t puzzle me” (TS 7.33.633)), the insufficiency of language (“Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words” (5.6.429)), and the unavailability of permanence (“Time wastes too fast” (9.8.754)). I actively engage with their theories to deconstruct unexamined themes inside Tristram Shandy, and illuminate postmodern elements inside the novel. However, I do not argue that Tristram Shandy is postmodern. Instead, I argue that if the reader examines the novel outside ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Generosity and Gentillesse: Economic Exchange in Medieval English Romance

Generosity and Gentillesse: Economic Exchange in Medieval English Romance

Date: May 2011
Creator: Stewart, James T.
Description: This study explores how three English romances of the late fourteenth century-Geoffrey Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight-employ economic exchange as a tool to illustrate community ideals. Although gift-giving and commerce are common motifs in medieval romance, these three romances depict acts of generosity and exchange that demonstrate fundamental principles of proper behavior by uniting characters in the poems in spite of social divisions such as gender or social class. Economic imagery in fourteenth-century romances merits particular consideration because of Richard II's prolific expenditure, which created such turbulence that the peasants revolted in 1381. The court's openhanded spending led to social unrest, but in romances a character's largesse strengthens community bonds by showing that all members of a group participate in an idealized gift economy. Positioned within the context of economic tensions, exchange in romances can lead readers to reexamine notions of group identity. Chestre's Sir Launfal unites its community under secular principles of economic exchange and evaluation. Using similar motifs of exchange, the Gawain-poet makes Christian and chivalric ideals apparent through Gawain's service and generosity to all those who follow the Christian faith. Further, Chaucer's Franklin's Tale portrays hospitality ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Miscegenated Narration: The Effects of Interracialism in Women's Popular Sentimental Romances from the Civil War Years

Miscegenated Narration: The Effects of Interracialism in Women's Popular Sentimental Romances from the Civil War Years

Date: May 2011
Creator: Beeler, Connie
Description: Critical work on popular American women's fiction still has not reckoned adequately with the themes of interracialism present in these novels and with interracialism's bearing on the sentimental. This thesis considers an often overlooked body of women's popular sentimental fiction, published from 1860-1865, which is interested in themes of interracial romance or reproduction, in order to provide a fuller picture of the impact that the intersection of interracialism and sentimentalism has had on American identity. By examining the literary strategy of "miscegenated narration," or the heteroglossic cacophony of narrative voices and ideological viewpoints that interracialism produces in a narrative, I argue that the hegemonic ideologies of the sentimental romance are both "deterritorialized" and "reterritorialized," a conflicted impulse that characterizes both nineteenth-century sentimental, interracial romances and the broader project of critiquing the dominant national narrative that these novels undertake.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
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