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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Degree Discipline: English
 Degree Level: Doctoral
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
The Fifth Humor: Ink, Texts, and the Early Modern Body

The Fifth Humor: Ink, Texts, and the Early Modern Body

Date: December 2012
Creator: Polster, Kristen Kayem
Description: 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 ...
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Gender and Desire in Thomas Lovell Beddoes'  The Brides' Tragedy and Death's Jest-Book

Gender and Desire in Thomas Lovell Beddoes' The Brides' Tragedy and Death's Jest-Book

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Date: May 2002
Creator: Rees, Shelley S.
Description: 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 ...
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God's Perfect Timing

God's Perfect Timing

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Date: August 2009
Creator: Rizzo, Steven
Description: 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.
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Happiness Is a By-Product of Function: William Burroughs and the American Pragmatist Tradition

Happiness Is a By-Product of Function: William Burroughs and the American Pragmatist Tradition

Date: December 2000
Creator: Goeman, James Robert
Description: 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 ...
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The Human Body is Not Designed for Ambivalence: Odes

The Human Body is Not Designed for Ambivalence: Odes

Date: December 2007
Creator: Walker, Tammy
Description: 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 ...
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Imagining The Reader: Vernacular Representation and Specialized Vocabulary in Medieval English Literature

Imagining The Reader: Vernacular Representation and Specialized Vocabulary in Medieval English Literature

Date: August 2000
Creator: Walther, James T.
Description: 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 ...
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Irony, Humor, and Ontological Relationality in Literature

Irony, Humor, and Ontological Relationality in Literature

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Date: August 2012
Creator: Kim, Soon Bae
Description: The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate ontological relationality in literary theory and criticism by critically reflecting on modern theories of literature and by practically examining the literary texts of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde. Traditional studies of literary texts have been oriented toward interpretative or hermeneutic methodologies, focusing on an independent and individual subject in literature. Instead, I explore how relational ontology uncovers the interactive structures interposed between the author, the text, and the audience by examining the system of how the author's creative positioning provokes the reader's reaction through the text. In Chapter I, I critically inquire into modern literary theories of "irony" in Romanticism, New Criticism, and Deconstructionism to show how they tend to disregard the dynamic dimension of interactive relationships between different literary subjects. Chapter II scrutinizes Wilde's humor in An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) in order to reveal the ontological relationships triggered by a creative positioning. In chapter III, I examine Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400) and the laughter in "The Miller's Tale" in particular, to examine the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of its interactive relationships. In Chapter IV, I explore Much Ado About Nothing ...
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"Is She Going to Die or Survive with Her Baby?": The Aftermath of Illegitimate Pregnancies in the Twentieth Century American Novels

"Is She Going to Die or Survive with Her Baby?": The Aftermath of Illegitimate Pregnancies in the Twentieth Century American Novels

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Date: August 2006
Creator: Liu, Li-Hsion
Description: This dissertation is mainly based on the reading of three American novels to explore how female characters deal with their illegitimate pregnancies and how their solutions re-shape their futures and affect their inner growth. Chapter 1 discusses Dorinda Oakley's premarital pregnancy in Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground and draws the circle of limits from Barbara Welter's "four cardinal virtues" (purity, submissiveness, domesticity, and piety) which connect to the analogous female roles (daughter, sister, wife, and mother). Dorinda's childless survival reconstructs a typical household from her domination and absence of maternity. Chapter 2 examines Ántonia Shimerda's struggles and endurance in My Ántonia by Willa Cather before and after Ántonia gives birth to a premarital daughter. Ántonia devotes herself to being a caring mother and to looking after a big family although her marriage is also friendship-centered. Chapter 3 adopts a different approach to analyze Charlotte Rittenmeyer's extramarital pregnancy in The Wild Palms by William Faulkner. As opposed to Dorinda and Ántonia who re-enter domesticity to survive, Charlotte runs out on her family and dies of a botched abortion. To help explain the aftermath of illicit pregnancies, I extend or shorten John Duvall's formula of female role mutations: "virgin>sexually active (called whore)>wife" to ...
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Jeans, Boots, and Starry Skies: Tales of a Gay Country-and-Western Bar and Places Nearby

Jeans, Boots, and Starry Skies: Tales of a Gay Country-and-Western Bar and Places Nearby

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Date: May 2010
Creator: Gay, Wayne Lee
Description: Fourteen short stories, with five interspersed vignettes, describe the lives of gay people in the southwestern United States, centered around a fictional gay country-and-western bar in Dallas and a small town in Oklahoma. Various characters, themes, and trajectories recur in the manner of a short story cycle, as explained in the prefatory Critical Analysis, which focuses on exemplary works of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Italo Calvino, Yevgeny Kharitonov, and Louise Erdrich.
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Jezebel's Daughters: A Study of Wilkie Collins and His Female Villains

Jezebel's Daughters: A Study of Wilkie Collins and His Female Villains

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Date: August 2000
Creator: Colvin, Trey Vincent
Description: The term "feminist," when applied to Wilkie Collins, implies he was concerned with rectifying the oppression of women in domestic life as well as with promoting equal rights between the sexes. This study explores Collins the "feminist" by analyzing his portrayals of women, particularly his most powerful feminine creations: his villainesses. Although this focus is somewhat limited, it allows for a detailed analysis of the development of Collins's attitudes towards powerful women from the beginning to the end of his career. It examines the relationship between Collins's developing moral attitudes and social beliefs, on the one hand, and the ideas of Victorian feminists such as Josephine Butler and feminist sympathizers such as John Stuart Mill, on the other. This interaction, while never overt, reveals the ambivalence and complexity of Collins's "feminist" attitudes. Of the five novels in this study, Antonina (1850), Basil (1852), Armadale (1866), Jezebel's Daughter (1880), and The Legacy of Cain (1889), only one was published at the zenith of Collins's career in the 1860s. Each of the villainesses in these novels, their ideas and experiences, are crucial to understanding Collins's "feminist" impulses. Looking at them as powerful women who detest domestic oppression, one becomes aware that Collins ...
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