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 Degree Discipline: English
Dark Houses: Navigating Space and Negotiating Silence in the Novels of Faulkner, Warren and Morrison

Dark Houses: Navigating Space and Negotiating Silence in the Novels of Faulkner, Warren and Morrison

Date: December 2000
Creator: Berger, Aimee E.
Description: 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 ...
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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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Themes of Exodus and Revolution in Ellison's Invisible Man, Morrison's Beloved, and Doctorow's Ragtime

Themes of Exodus and Revolution in Ellison's Invisible Man, Morrison's Beloved, and Doctorow's Ragtime

Date: December 2000
Creator: Turner, Tracy Peterson
Description: In my dissertation I examine the steps in and performance of revolution through the writings of three Postmodern authors, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and E. L. Doctorow, in light of the model of the biblical Exodus journey and the revolution which precipitated that movement. I suggest that the revolution which began with the Israelites' bondage in Egypt has provided the foundation for American literature. I show that Invisible Man, Beloved, and Ragtime not only employ the motif of the Exodus journey; they also perpetuate the silent revolution begun by the Israelites while held captive in Egypt. This dissertation consists of six chapters. Chapter One provides the introduction to the project. Chapter Two provides the model for this study by defining the characteristics of the Exodus journey, Moses as the leader of the Israelites, and the pattern of revolution established by Michael Walzer in Exodus and Revolution. In Chapters Three, Four, and Five, I apply the model established in Chapter Two to the individual texts. In Chapter Six, I draw three conclusions which arise from my study. My first conclusion is that the master story of the Exodus journey and the Israelites' liberation from Egypt informs all Western literaturewhether the literature ...
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Parts of Women

Parts of Women

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Date: May 2001
Creator: Murphy, Maria Christine
Description: Parts of Women contains a scholarly preface that discusses the woman's body both in fiction and in the experience of being a woman writer. The preface is followed by five original short stories. "Parts of Women" is a three-part story composed of three first-person monologues. "Controlled Burn" involves a woman anthropologist who discovers asbestos in her office. "Tango Lessons" is about a middle-aged woman who's always in search of her true self. "Expatriates" concerns a man who enters the lives of his Hare Krishna neighbors, and "Rio" involves a word-struck man in his attempt to form a personal relationship.
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Luke's Mama

Luke's Mama

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Date: August 2001
Creator: Howell, Melissa
Description: A creative nonfiction thesis, Luke's Mama is a memoir of personal essays that explore how the birth of my son has affected the ways that I relate within and interpret different areas of my life. Chapter I, Introduction, identifies personal and ethical concerns involved in telling my story and explores how others have handled similar issues. Chapter II, Family, illustrates how my relationship with my family of origin has changed since I've become a parent and also how my new family and I interact with society. Chapter III, Calling, depicts my struggle in finding a balance between work and family priorities. Chapter IV, Partner, presents a contrast between my relationship with my partner before and after my son's birth. Chapter V, Parent, displays the beginning of my ever-growing relationship with my son and sense of parenthood.
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Anne Brontë's New Women:  Agnes Grey and  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as Precursors of New Woman Fiction

Anne Brontë's New Women: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as Precursors of New Woman Fiction

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Date: August 2001
Creator: Phillips, Jennifer K.
Description: 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 ...
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John Graves and the Pastoral Tradition

John Graves and the Pastoral Tradition

Date: August 2001
Creator: Anderson, David Roy
Description: John Graves's creative non-fiction has earned him respect in Texas letters as a seminal writer but scarce critical commentary of his work outside the region. Ecological criticism examines how language, culture and the land interact, providing a context in which to discuss Graves in relation to the southwestern literary tradition of J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, and Roy Bedichek, to southern pastoral in the Virgilian mode, and to American nature writing. Graves's rhetorical strategies, including his appropriation of form, his non-polemical voice, his experimentation with narrative persona, and his utilization of traditional tropes of metaphor, metonymy, and irony, establish him as a conservative and Romantic writer of place concerned with the friction between traditional agrarian values and the demands of late-twentieth-century urban/technological existence. Sequentially, Graves's three main booksGoodbye to a River (1960), Hard Scrabble (1974), and From a Limestone Ledge (1980)represent a movement from the pastoral mode of the outward journey and return to the more domestic world of georgic, from the mode of leisure and contemplation to the demands and rewards of hard work and ownership. As such they represent not only progression or maturation in the arc of the narrator's life but a desire to reconcile ideological ...
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Moral Training for Nature's Egotists: Mentoring Relationships in George Eliot's Fiction

Moral Training for Nature's Egotists: Mentoring Relationships in George Eliot's Fiction

Date: August 2001
Creator: Schweers, Ellen H.
Description: George Eliot's fiction is filled with mentoring relationships which generally consist of a wise male mentor and a foolish, egotistic female mentee. The mentoring narratives relate the conversion of the mentee from narcissism to selfless devotion to the community. By retaining the Christian value of self-abnegation and the Christian tendency to devalue nature, Eliot, nominally a secular humanist who abandoned Christianity, reveals herself still to be a covert Christian. In Chapter 1 I introduce the moral mentoring theme and provide background material. Chapter 2 consists of an examination of Felix Holt, which clearly displays Eliot's crucial dichotomy: the moral is superior to the natural. In Chapter 3 I present a Freudian analysis of Gwendolen Harleth, the mentee most fully developed. In Chapter 4 I examine two early mentees, who differ from later mentees primarily in that they are not egotists and can be treated with sympathy. Chapter 5 covers three gender-modified relationships. These relationships show contrasting views of nature: in the Dinah Morris-Hetty Sorrel narrative, like most of the others, Eliot privileges the transcendence of nature. The other two, Mary Garth-Fred Vincy and Dolly Winthrop-Silas Marner, are exceptions as Eliot portrays in them a Wordsworthian reconciliation with nature. In Chapter ...
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Working Whiteness: Performing And Transgressing Cultural Identity Through Work

Working Whiteness: Performing And Transgressing Cultural Identity Through Work

Date: May 2002
Creator: Polizzi, Allessandria
Description: Early in Richard Wright's Native Son, we see Bigger and his friend Gus “playing white.” Taking on the role of “J. P. Morgan,” the two young black men give orders and act powerful, thus performing their perceived role of whiteness. This scene is more than an ironic comment on the characters' distance from the lifestyle of the J. P. Morgans of the world; their acts of whiteness are a representation of how whiteness is constructed. Such an analysis is similar to my own focus in this dissertation. I argue that whiteness is a culturally constructed identity and that work serves as a performative space for defining and transgressing whiteness. To this end, I examine work and its influence on the performance of middle class and working class whiteness, as well as how those outside the definitions of whiteness attempt to “play white,” as Bigger does. Work enables me to explore the codes of whiteness and how they are performed, understood, and transgressed by providing a locus of cultural performance. Furthermore, by looking at novels written in the early twentieth century, I am able to analyze characters at a historical moment in which work was of great import. With the labor ...
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Neckbones and Sauerfowches: From Fractured Childhood in the Ghetto to Constantly Changing Womanhood in the World

Neckbones and Sauerfowches: From Fractured Childhood in the Ghetto to Constantly Changing Womanhood in the World

Date: May 2002
Creator: Smith, Starita
Description: A collection of five memoiristic essays arranged about themes of family, womanhood and the African-American community with a preface. Among the experiences the memoirs recount are childhood abandonment; verbal and emotional child abuse; mental illness; poverty; and social and personal change. Essays explore the lasting impact of abandonment by a father on a girl as she grows into a woman; the devastation of family turmoil and untreated mental illness; generational identity in the African-American community. One essay describes the transition from the identity-forming profession of journalism to academia. The last essay is about complicated and conflicting emotions toward patriotism and flag-waving on the part of a black woman who has lived through riots, little known police shootings of students on black campuses, and many other incidents that have divided Americans.
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