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- The Laureates’ Lens: Exposing the Development of Literary History and Literary Criticism From Beneath the Dunce Cap
- In this project, I examine the impact of early literary criticism, early literary history, and the history of knowledge on the perception of the laureateship as it was formulated at specific moments in the eighteenth century. Instead of accepting the assessments of Pope and Johnson, I reconstruct the contemporary impact of laureate writings and the writing that fashioned the view of the laureates we have inherited. I use an array of primary documents (from letters and journal entries to poems and non-fiction prose) to analyze the way the laureateship as a literary identity was constructed in several key moments: the debate over hack literature in the pamphlet wars surrounding Elkanah Settle’s The Empress of Morocco (1673), the defense of Colley Cibber and his subsequent attempt to use his expertise of theater in An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740), the consolidation of hack literature and state-sponsored poetry with the crowning of Colley Cibber as the King of the Dunces in Pope’s The Dunciad in Four Books (1742), the fashioning of Thomas Gray and William Mason as laureate rejecters in Mason’s Memoirs of the Life and Writings of William Whitehead (1788), Southey’s progressive work to abolish laureate task writing in his laureate odes 1813-1821, and, finally, in Wordsworth’s refusal to produce any laureate task writing during his tenure, 1843-1850. In each case, I explain how the construction of this office was central to the consolidation of literary history and to forging authorial identity in the same period. This differs from the conventional treatment of the laureates because I expose the history of the versions of literary history that have to date structured how scholars understand the laureate, and by doing so, reveal how the laureateship was used to create, legitimate and disseminate the model of literary history we still use today.
- Derivation: Excerpts From a Novel
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The dissertation consists of a critical preface and excerpts from the novel Derivation. The preface details how the novel Derivation explores the tension between the artist and the academy in the university, as well as the role memory plays in the construction of fictional narratives. The preface also details how narrative voice is used to expand the scope of Derivation, and ends with a discussion of masculine tropes in the novel. Derivation traces the path of a woman trying to rebuild her life in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, returning first to her blue collar roots before pursuing a career as an academic.
- “Wolf Man”
- This creative nonfiction dissertation is a memoir that probes the complex life and death of the author’s father, who became addicted in his late forties to crack cocaine. While the primary concerns are the reasons and ways in which the father changed from a family man into a drug addict, the memoir is also concerned with themes of family life, childhood, and grief. After his father’s death, the author moves to Las Vegas and experiences similar addiction issues, which he then explores to help shed light on his father’s problems. To enrich the investigation, the author draws from eclectic sources, including news articles, literature, mythology, sociology, religion, music, TV, interviews, and inherited objects from his father. In dissecting the life of his father, the author simultaneously examines broader issues surrounding modern fatherhood, such as cultural expectations, as well as the problems of emptiness, isolation, and spiritual deficiency.
- Bass Reeves: a History • a Novel • a Crusade, Volume 1: the Rise
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This literary/historical novel details the life of African-American Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves between the years 1838-1862 and 1883-1884. One plotline depicts Reeves’s youth as a slave, including his service as a body servant to a Confederate cavalry officer during the Civil War. Another plotline depicts him years later, after Emancipation, at the height of his deputy career, when he has become the most feared, most successful lawman in Indian Territory, the largest federal jurisdiction in American history and the most dangerous part of the Old West. A preface explores the uniqueness of this project’s historical relevance and literary positioning as a neo-slave narrative, and addresses a few liberties that I take with the historical record.
- Vanishing Act
- This dissertation is comprised of a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface reconsiders the value of discontinuous poetic forms and advocates a return to lyric as an antidote to the toxic aspects of what Tony Hoagland terms “the skittery poem of our moment.” I consider poems by Wendy Xu, Kevin Prufer, Sharon Olds, and Stephen Dunn in depth to facilitate a discussion about the value of a more centrist position between the poles of supreme discontinuity and totalizing continuity. Though poets working in discontinuous forms are rightly skeptical of the hierarchies that govern narrative and linear forms, as Czesław Miłosz notes in The Witness of Poetry, “a poet discovers a secret, namely that he can be faithful to real things only by arranging them hierarchically.” In my own poems, I make use of the hierarchies of ordered perception in lyric and narrative forms to faithfully illuminate the collapsed structures of my own family history in the shadow of Detroit. I practice the principles I advocate in the preface, using a continuous form to address fractured realities in a busy, disordered age when poets often seek forms as fragmented as their perceptions. These poems are distinctly American, but because there is no true royalty in America, our great cultural and economic institutions—television, music, film, magazines, and big business—take the place of the castle (the book’s emblem) while Michael Jackson ultimately rises as the commanding dead king whose passing prompts contemplation of the viability of popular culture, family, history, and geography. The fallen structures that litter the work are many: the twin towers, chess rooks, bounce castles, nuclear families, the auto industry. However, the sole structure cohering the whole is that of a lyric voice whose authority is derived through lived experience and presented in rich, continuous poetic forms.
- (Some More) American Literature
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This short story collection consists of twenty short fictions and a novella. A preface precedes the collection addressing issues of craft, pedagogy, and the post Program Era literary landscape, with particular attention paid to the need for empathy as an active guiding principle in the writing of fiction.
- Marvels of the Invisible
- This dissertation is comprised of a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface considers the consumed animal body as a metaphor in contemporary American poetry, specifically in the works of Galway Kinnell, Li Young Lee, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly. The consumption of the mute creature allows the poet to identify the human self in the animal other, and serves as a metaphor for our continuity with the natural world. I revise Owen Barfield’s notion of “original participation,” positing that through imaginative participation, the poet and the reader can identify the animal within the self, and thus approach a fuller understanding of both the self and the outside world. We identify the animal other within the human self, and in of this act of relating, we are able to temporarily transgress the boundaries of the individual self to create art that expresses continuity with the outside world. This argument brings about a discussion of text as an act of consumption, and the way and which this can symbolize the ways in which the self is altered through the act of reading. The book-length collection of poems, entitled Marvels of the Invisible, won Tupelo Press’s 2014 Berkshire prize for a first or second book of poetry. The poems look to sources like 17th and 18th century scientific letters, modern and contemporary art, and recent studies in biological phenomena in order to parse the intersection between personal experience and the outside world. The title of the collection points to the conceptual interests of the book: through the lens of scientific phenomena, memory, and personal history, one begins to see that what seems very small (the ant under a microscope, a Russian nesting doll, two people on horseback) are, in fact, individual offerings that articulate one’s place in the cosmos. The collective voice I advocate in the critical preface appears in these poems, especially “Echolocation,” “My Name in Sleep,” “Civilization,” and “Narrative,” all of which make use of the animal-as-metaphor. This collective voice is particularly female, and deals with motherhood, loss, and childhood experience. Poetry, as part-myth, longs to transgress the felt boundaries of the self; it must see that self as inextricably dependent on the natural world.
- The Palestinian Archipelago and the Construction of Palestinian Identity After Sixty-five Years of Diaspora: the Rebirth of the Nation
- This dissertation conceptualizes a Palestinian archipelago based on Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope, and uses the archipelago model to illustrate the situation and development of Palestinian consciousness in diaspora. To gain insight into the personal lives of Palestinians in diaspora, This project highlights several islands of Palestinian identities as represented in the novels: Dancing Arabs, A Compass for the Sunflower, and The Inheritance. The identities of the characters in these works are organized according to the archipelago model, which illustrates how the characters rediscover, repress, or change their identities in order to accommodate life in diaspora. Analysis reveals that a major goal of Palestinian existence in diaspora is the maintenance of an authentic Palestinian identity. Therefore, my description of the characters’ identities and locations in the archipelago model are informed by various scholars and theories of nationalism. Moreover, this dissertation illustrates how different Palestinian identities coalesce into a single national consciousness that has been created and sustained by a collective experience of suffering and thirst for sense of belonging and community among Palestinians. Foremost in the memories of all Palestinians is the memory of the land of Palestine and the dream of national restoration; these are the main uniting factors between Palestinians revealed in my analysis. Furthermore, this project presents an argument that developing a Palestinian exceptionalism as both a response and a solution to the problems Palestine faced in the 20th century has already occurred among diasporic Palestinians as well as those settled in the West Bank. In addition, a significant finding of this dissertation is the generation clash in regarding to the methods of modernization of the West Bank society between the settled Palestinian and those returning from diaspora. Nevertheless, a Palestinian homecoming will require a renegotiation of Palestinian identities in which generation gaps and other disagreements will be resolved and transcended in favor of nation-state building.
- Networks of Social Debt in Early Modern Literature and Culture
- This thesis argues that social debt profoundly transformed the environment in which literature was produced and experienced in the early modern period. In each chapter, I examine the various ways in which social debt affected Renaissance writers and the literature they produced. While considering the cultural changes regarding patronage, love, friendship, and debt, I will analyze the poetry and drama of Ben Jonson, Lady Mary Wroth, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Middleton. Each of these writers experiences social debt in a unique and revealing way. Ben Jonson's participation in networks of social debt via poetry allowed him to secure both a livelihood and a place in the Jacobean court through exchanges of poetry and patronage. The issue of social debt pervades both Wroth's life and her writing. Love and debt are intertwined in the actions of her father, the death of her husband, and the themes of her sonnets and pastoral tragicomedy. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596), Antonio and Bassanio’s friendship is tested by a burdensome interpersonal debt, which can only be alleviated by an outsider. This indicated the transition from honor-based credit system to an impersonal system of commercial exchange. Middleton’s A Trick to Catch the Old One (1608) examines how those heavily in debt dealt with both the social and legal consequences of defaulting on loans.
- Down and Out: A Novel
- A creative dissertation consisting of two parts: a novel and a critical preface. The critical preface, titled “Novel without Falsehood” deals directly with David Shields’s Reality Hunger, touching on issues of reality as it pertains to truth, writing, fiction, and contemporary culture. The novel is entitled Down and Out and follows the fortunes of a small town in Arkansas before, during, and after its sole source of employment ceases to exist.
- Patrol: Excerpts From a Novel
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The dissertation consists of a critical preface and excerpts from the novel Patrol. The preface explores how the novel Patrol utilizes characters that engage with tropes of the Romantic Genius in order to establish their subjectivity while navigating the standardizing mechanisms of twenty-first century information technologies. The preface analyzes how the rise of the organic food movement, the usage of biotech genetic engineering, and the tactics of Big Data-era marketing all inform the critical underpinnings of Patrol, situating the novel in conversation with works of fiction and nonfiction that also explore the interplay of these topics with contemporary American culture. Set primarily in Cincinnati, Ohio, the bifurcated narrative of the novel Patrol enlists the perspectives of both a science-tech father from the Boomer generation, Tim Smith, and his millennial public relations-major daughter, Sarah Smith. Both work in industries that seek to utilize the concept of the individual genius in service of quantification. Tim and Sarah’s interactions with Alexandra Smith, a family member who transitions from female to male over the course of the novel, cause both protagonists to recognize that their own identities are malleable, and this discovery goads each into reexamining their career choices and personal relationships. The plot depicts the outcome of these explorations, culminating in a series of choices for Tim and Sarah that showcase the fundamental change in each character. Unable to simply quantify themselves and those around them, Tim and Sarah instead adopt a more nuanced view of the world that seeks to find a balance between the individualistic conceit of the Romantic genius and the quantifying mandates of technology.
- Recklessness and Light
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This dissertation contains two parts: Part I, which discusses the methods and means by which poets achieve originality within ekphrastic works; and Part II, Recklessness and Light, a collection of poems. Poets who seek to write ekphrastically are faced with a particular challenge: they must credibly and substantially build on the pieces of art they are writing about. Poems that fail to achieve invention become mere translations. A successful ekphrastic poem must in some way achieve originality by using the techniques of the artist to credibly and substantially build on the art. The preface discusses three ekphrastic poems: W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in Convex Mirror,” and Larry Levis’ “Caravaggio: Swirl and Vortex.” In order to invent, each of these poets connects time within the paintings to time within the poem. The poets turn to techniques such as imprinting of historical context, conflation, and stranging of perspective to connect their work with the paintings. I examine these methods of generating ekphrastic poems in order to evaluate how these poets have responded to one another and to consider emerging patterns of ekphrastic poetry in the twentieth century.
- Somebody Else’s Second Chance
- Charles Baxter, in his essay “Dysfunctional Narratives: or: ‘Mistakes Were Made,’” implies that all trauma narrative is synonymous with “dysfunctional narrative,” or narrative that leaves all characters unaccountable. He writes: “In such fiction, people and events are often accused of turning the protagonist into the kind of person the protagonist is, usually an unhappy person. That’s the whole story. When blame has been assigned, the story is over.” For Baxter, trauma narrative lets everyone “off the hook,” so to speak. He would say that we write about our bitter lemonade to make excuses for our poor choices, and “audiences of fellow victims” read our tales, because their lemonade and their choices carry equal bitterness, and they require equal excuses. While trauma narrative can soothe us, as can other narrative genres, we should not dismiss trauma fiction because of a sweeping generalization. Trauma fiction also allows us to explore the missing parts of our autobiographical narratives and to explore the effects of trauma—two endeavors not fully possible without fiction. As explained in more detail later, the human mind requires narrative to formulate an identity. Trauma disrupts this process, because “trauma does not lie in the possession of the individual, to be recounted at will, but rather acts as a haunting or possessive influence which not only insistently and intrusively returns but is, moreover, experienced for the first time only in its belated repetition.” Because literature can speak what “theory cannot say,” we need fiction to speak in otherwise silent spaces. Fiction allows us to express, analyze, and comprehend what we could not otherwise.
- The Necessity of Movement
- This dissertation is a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface considers emotional immediacy—or the idea of enacting in readers an emotional drama that appears genuine and simultaneous with the speaker's experience—and furthermore argues against the common criticism that accessibility means simplicity, ultimately reifying the importance of accessibility in contemporary poetry. The preface is divided into an introduction and three sections, each of which explores a different technique for creating immediacy, exemplified by Robert Lowell’s "Waking in the Blue,” Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus,” and Louise Gluck's "Eros." The first section examines "Waking in the Blue,” and the poem's systematic inflation and deflation of persona as a means of revealing complexity a ambiguity. The second section engages in a close reading of "Lady Lazarus,” arguing that the poem's initially deliberately false erodes into sincerity, creating immediacy. The third section considers the continued importance of persona beyond confessionalism, and argues that in "Eros," it is the apparent lack of drama, and the focus on the cognitive process, that facilitates emotional immediacy.
- A Study of the Treatment of Time in the Plays of Lyly, Marlowe, Greene, and Peele
- Because Shakespeare borrowed so many ideas and devices from other writers, we wonder whether he also borrowed the trick of double time from some of his predecessors; therefore one of the purposes of this study is to discover whether or not this device was original with Shakespeare. In this study I have considered the works of John Lyly, Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, and George Peele because these four seem to have influenced Shakespeare more than did any of the other of his immediate predecessors. To discover what influence, if any, these men had upon Shakespeare ts treatment of time is not, however, the only purpose of this study; for I am also interested in the characteristics of the works of these men for their own values, independent of any influence which they may have had on the works of Shakespeare.
- Satire on American Life as Portrayed in the Novels of Sinclair Lewis
- Since 1920, Lewis has written only novels in which he has ridiculed the leading phases of American life. He has given an exact picture; he has left no faults uncovered. He loves America and he hates to see her in a state of degeneration. He has tried to appeal to the human side of his public in order to open the eyes of America to her own defects. He has been cynical, satirical, and humorous in his attempt to picture America as she really is. I have chosen the novels that Lewis has written since the year 1920 to show that he has satirized America in her various phases of life. I have not explored the fields of poetry and drama nor the earlier novels; for beginning with Main Street in 1920 and ending with the Prodigal Parents in 1938, Lewis has depicted the faults of a nation struggling for peace and security in a world of materialistic ideals.
- The Gothic Elements in Shelley's Writings
- The purpose of this thesis is to give a basic understanding of Percy Shelley's introduction to Gothicism and to explore the Gothic elements found within his writings.
- Contemporary Women Poets of Texas
- As a teacher of American literature in high school, I have become conscious of the importance of teaching students of that age level the lore and poetry of their native state. Poems of nature or local color in their own country will hold their interest when material from more distant points seems dull and uninteresting. Through my teaching I have become interested in the poetry of the Southwest and have enjoyed reading the poetry and knowing the poets through personal interview or correspondence.
- Repetitions in the Most Popular Works of Mark Twain
- This paper is a study of the repetitions in the works of Mark Twain.The author has chosen repetitions which are most nearly alike and most representative of Mark Twain. The study was limited to repetitions of his own experiences repeated in his works, to repetitions of descriptions of the beautiful and the horrible, and to repetitions which are a result of his humor and a desire to save man from himself.
- Persons and Places in Mark Twain's Fiction
- This paper focuses on Mark Twain's writing style and characterization in his fiction. The settings and characters of his fiction are in particular focus, specifically how Mark Twain draws on personal experiences and memories to make his characters and settings more relatable and realistic. A brief biography of Twain's life is given before the author goes into the specifics of characterization and settings.
- Structural and Thematic Development in the Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald
- In dealing with the individual works, I have attempted to analyze the structural element first, and then to deduce the novel's meaning, or theme, making use, wherever it is possible, of the results of the analysis of structure. In addition, I have attempted to reveal the development of certain themes from one novel to another, and certain developments in characterization and general design. I have attempted to reveal the relationship of the structure and thematic aspects of the individual works to Fizgerald's work as a whole. Finally, I have attempted to demonstrate Fitzgerald's relationship with certain of this peers and forebears in the American novel.
- Plots from Greek Tragedy in Twentieth Century Drama
- In so far as I have been able to determine, nothing by way of general criticism or comment has previously been written on the subject of Greek plots in twentieth century tragedy, although individual writers have themselves admitted a certain indebtedness to their sources, and comments regarding the specific plays which I have cited, of course, mention a Greek origin. As regards the whole field of contemporary drama, however, I believe that no treaties earlier than this one has discussed the prevalence of Greek plots among twentieth century dramas.
- Plot Structure in the Novels of Mark Twain
- Mark Twain was not only a wit but a literary man. He could paint a scene and he could make a character live, but could he plot a novel? It is the purpose of this study to analyze his methods and his products, with emphasis upon the building of plots.
- The Treatment of Human Cruelty in the Novels of Mark Twain
- The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate Mark Twain's awareness of and sensitive reaction to the cruelty which surrounded him throughout his lifetime, and to evaluate his literary use of cruelty for both comic and satiric effects.
- Recent Interpretations of Iago
- A study of the character of Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. Traces the trends of interpretations, schools of thought, and major influences in interpretations of Iago as manifested in a survey of the writings of Shakespearean critics of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. The emphasis of the study shall be on twentieth-century criticism, with possible established patterns of interpretation and their relation to or deviation from the patterns of the two previous centuries.
- The Faithful Wife Motif in Elizabethan Drama
- The major purpose of this thesis is to present a discussion of the motif of the faithful wife as it appears in the domestic drama of the Elizabethan Age; in addition, an account of the literary history of the theme will be given, in order that the use made of the story in Elizabethan drama may be correctly evaluated.
- The Problem of Spelling Reform
- Spelling is a tool by which one records his thoughts and ideas; therefore it is a vital part of life. To fulfill its task successfully, spelling must be accurate. Spelling is that tool by which the happenings of the past are revealed to the present and are preserved for the future. For any individual who attempts to transfer his thoughts and words by symbols onto paper, correct spelling is a prime essential. It follows, then, that to develop perfect habits of spelling in order that perfect transcriptions of thoughts might be made is the duty of the teacher. This duty has been attempted by teachers for many generations. But it is an established fact that the goal has not been reached, for there is a stupendous number of misspellings in the written work of students in high schools. Many methods have been advanced for correcting this incompetence in spelling; when these were tried, they have failed to secure the coveted goal. In some instances the cure has aggravated the disease. Successful abolishment of this handicap baffles the teaching profession. In a course in American pronunciation recently conducted at North Texas State College, the teacher presented the fact that there are factors in the English language which tend to become stumbling-blocks to the attainment of perfect spelling. For the first time it became evident to this writer that certain elements within the language might be the cause of the spelling problem. Therefore, the readings for this thesis were undertaken for the purpose of finding the logical causes for poor spelling habits and with the hope of discovering a workable remedy.
- Jane Austen and Her Critics, 1940-1954
- The purpose of this thesis is to survey Jane Austen biography and criticism published since 1940 in order to show the present state of Jane Austen study while providing a bibliographical guide to recent material.
- Hawthorne's Use of Symbolism in Four Romances
- This thesis is a study of the four long romances, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun, with emphasis upon Hawthorne's use of symbolism as a means of presenting the basic moral and spiritual truths of human life. The first chapter explains the nature of symbolism and the reasons why Hawthorne used it so extensively. In each of the last four chapters, the symbolism in a single romance is considered for the purpose of discovering the manner and effectiveness of its use in exemplifying the central theme of that particular story. Although Hawthorne's short stories are extremely rich in symbolism, it was not possible to include them in the present study.
- Into the Woods: Wilderness Imagery as Representation of Spiritual and Emotional Transition in Medieval Literature
- Wilderness landscape, a setting common in Romantic literature and painting, is generally overlooked in the art of the Middle Ages. While the medieval garden and the city are well mapped, the medieval wilderness remains relatively trackless. Yet the use of setting to represent interior experience may be traced back to the Neo-Platonic use of space and movement to define spiritual development. Separating themselves as far as possible from the material world, such writers as Origen and Plotinus avoided use of representational detail in their spatial models; however, both the visual artists and the authors who adopted the Neo-Platonic paradigm, elaborated their emotional spaces with the details of the classical locus amoenus and of the exegetical desert, while retaining the philosophical concern with spiritual transition. Analysis of wilderness as an image for spiritual and emotional transition in medieval literature and art relates the texts to an iconographic tradition which, along with motifs of city and garden, provides a spatial representation of interior progress, as the medieval dialectic process provides a paradigm for intellectual resolution. Such an analysis relates the motif to the core of medieval intellectual experience, and further suggests significant connections between medieval and modern narratives in regard to the representation of interior experience. The Divine Comedy and related Continental texts employ both classical and exegetical sources in the representation of psychological transition and spiritual conversion. Similar techniques are also apparent in English texts such as Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon elegies, in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, and Troilus and Criseyde, and in the northern English The Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. These literary texts, further, include both ideas and techniques which are analogous to those of visual arts, where frescos and altarpieces show the wilderness as metaphor for transition, and where manuscript illuminations relate this visual concept to texts. Thus, the wilderness as a landscape of personal crisis becomes in the Middle Ages a significant part of the representation of interior experience in painting and in literature.
- Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners
- 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.
- Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture
- 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 How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1967) and Just Above My Head (1977) to aid our understanding of how performance prescribes and scrambles dominant narratives about black men after the sexual revolution.
- Across Borders and Barlines: Chicana/o Literature, Jazz Improvisation, and Contrapuntal Solidarity
- 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.
- Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry
- 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 woman’s position in society under the law through his representation of Criseyde’s role in her courtship with Troilus in his epic romance, Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer disrupts his audiences’ expectations by placing Criseyde as the more agentive party in her courtship with Troilus and shows that women might hope to the most authority in marriage by withholding their consent. In his last dream vision, The Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer engages again with the importance of female consent in marriage but takes his interrogation of conjugal rights a step further by imagining an alternate legal system through Nature, a female authority who gives equal consideration to all classes and genders.
- Private Affections: Miscegenation and the Literary Imagination in Israel-Palestine
- This study politicizes the mixed relationship in Israeli-Palestinian literature. I examine Arab-Jewish and interethnic Jewish intimacy in works by Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, canonical Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua, select anthologized Anglophone and translated Palestinian and Israeli poetry, and Israeli feminist writer Orly Castel-Bloom. I also examine the material cultural discourses issuing from Israel’s textile industry, in which Arabs and Jews interact. Drawing from the methodology of twentieth-century Brazilian miscegenation theorist Gilberto Freyre, I argue that mixed intimacies in the Israeli-Palestinian imaginary represent a desire to restructure a hegemonic public sphere in the same way Freyre’s Brazilian mestizo was meant to rhetorically undermine what he deemed a Western cult of uniformity. This project constitutes a threefold contribution. I offer one of the few postcolonial perspectives on Israeli literature, as it remains underrepresented in the field in comparison to its Palestinian counterparts. I also present the first sustained critique of the hetero relationship and the figure of the hybrid in Israeli-Palestinian literature, especially as I focus on its representation for political options rather than its aesthetic intrigue. Finally, I reexamine and apply Gilberto Freyre in a way that excavates him from critical interment and advocates for his global relevance.
- “True Image Pictur’d”: Metaphor, Epistemology, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets
- In this dissertation, I examine the influence of Pyrrhonist skepticism over Shakespeare’s sonnets. Unlike academic skepticism, which begins from a position of doubt, Pyrrhonist skepticism encourages an embrace of multiple perspectives that, according to Sextus Empiricus, leads first to a suspension of judgment and ultimately to a state of tranquility. The Pyrrhonian inflection of Shakespeare’s sonnets accounts for the pleasure and uncertainty they cultivate in readers. By offering readers multiple perspectives on a given issue, such as love or infidelity, Shakespeare’s sonnets demonstrate the instability of information, suggesting that such instability can be a source for pleasure. One essential tool for the uncertainty in the sonnets, I argue, is the figurative language they draw from a variety of fields and discourses. When these metaphors contradict one another, creating fragmented images in the minds of readers, they generate a unique aesthetic experience, which creates meaning that transcends the significance of any of the individual metaphors. In the first two chapters, I identify important contexts for Shakespeare’s sensitivity to the pliability of figurative language: Reformation-era religious tracts and pamphleteers’ debates about the value and function of the theater. In Chapter 3, I examine Shakespeare’s response to the Petrarchan tradition, arguing that he diverges from the sonneteers, who often use figurative language in an attempt to access and communicate stable truths. Shakespeare creates epistemological instability in sonnets both to the young man and to the dark lady, and, as I argue in Chapter 4, this similarity offers readers an opportunity to think beyond traditional divisions between the two sonnet subsequences.
- Shakespeare and Modeling Political Subjectivity
- This dissertation examines the role of aesthetic activity in the pursuit of political agency in readings of several of Shakespeare’s plays, including Hamlet (1600), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595), The Tempest (1610), the history plays of the second tetralogy (1595-9), Julius Caesar (1599), and Coriolanus (1605). I demonstrate how Shakespeare models political subjectivity—the capacity for individuals to participate meaningfully in the political realm—as necessitating active aesthetic agency. This aesthetic agency entails the fashioning of artistically conceived public personae that potential political subjects enact in the public sphere and the critical engagement of the aesthetic and political discourses of the subjects’ culture in a self-reflective and appropriative manner. Furthermore, these subjects should be wary auditors of the texts and personae they encounter within the public sphere in order to avoid internalizing constraining ideologies that reify their identities into forms less conducive to the pursuit of liberty and social mobility. Early modern audiences could discover several models for doing so in Shakespeare’s works. For example, Hamlet posits a model of Machiavellian theatricality that masks the Prince's interiority as he resists the biopolitical force and disciplinary discourses of Claudius's Denmark. Julius Caesar and Coriolanus advance a model of citizenship through the plays’ nameless plebeians in which rhetoric offers the means to participate in Rome’s political culture, and Shakespeare’s England for audiences, while authorities manipulate citizen opinion by molding the popularity of public figures. Public, artistic ability affords potential political subjects ways of not only framing their participation in their culture but also ways of conceiving of their identities and relationships to society that may defy normative notions of membership in the community.
- Heroism and Failure in Anglo-Saxon Poetry: the Ideal and the Real within the Comitatus
- This dissertation discusses the complicated relationship (known as the comitatus) of kings and followers as presented in the heroic poetry of the Anglo-Saxons. The anonymous poets of the age celebrated the ideals of their culture but consistently portrayed the real behavior of the characters within their works. Other studies have examined the ideals of the comitatus in general terms while referring to the poetry as a body of work, or they have discussed them in particular terms while referring to one or two poems in detail. This study is both broader and deeper in scope than are the earlier works. In a number of poems I have identified the heroic ideals and examined the poetic treatment of those ideals. In order to establish the necessary background, Chapter I reviews the historical sources, such as Tacitus, Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the work of modern historians. Chapter II discusses such attributes of the king as wisdom, courage, and generosity. Chapter III examines the role of aristocratic women within the society. Chapter IV describes the proper behavior of followers, primarily their loyalty in return for treasures earlier bestowed. Chapter V discusses perversions and failures of the ideal. The dissertation concludes that, contrary to the view that Anglo-Saxon literature idealized the culture, the poets presented a reasonably realistic picture of their age. Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry celebrates ideals of behavior which, even when they can be attained, are not successful in the real world of political life.
- Unity, Ecstasy, Communion: The Tragic Perspective of W.B. Yeats
- As a young man of twenty-one in 1886, William Butler Yeats announced his ambition to unify Ireland through heroic poetry. But this prophetic urge lacked structure. Yeats had only some callow notions about needing self-possession and appropriate control of his imagery. As a result, his search for essential knowledge and experience soon led him into occult and symbolist vagueness. Yeats' mind grew flaccid, and his art languished in preciosity for over a decade. Lotos-eating had replaced prophetic fervor. However, early in the new century, as Yeats neared middle age and permanent mediocrity, he recovered his early zeal and finally found the means to give it artistic shape. Through daily theatre work he had discovered tragedy. And through personal trials he had developed a tragic sense. Hence, an entire tragic perspective was born, one that would dominate Yeats' mind and art the rest of his life. Locating the contours of Yeats' shift in-viewpoint, then, provides the key to understanding the man and his mature work. The present study does just that, tracing the origin, development, and elaboration of Yeats' tragic perspective, from its theoretical underpinnings to its poetic triumphs. Above all, this study supplies the basic context of Yeats* careers why he took the path he did, and how he wove all that he found along the way into a remarkable fabric.
- The Decline of the Country-House Poem in England: A Study in the History of Ideas
- This study discusses the evolution of the English country-house poem from its inception by Ben Jonson in "To Penshurst" to the present. It shows that in addition to stylistic and thematic borrowings primarily from Horace and Martial, traditional English values associated with the great hall and comitatus ideal helped define features of the English country-house poem, to which Jonson added the metonymical use of architecture. In the Jonsonian country-house poem, the country estate, exemplified by Penshurst, is a microcosm of the ideal English social organization characterized by interdependence, simplicity, service, hospitality, and balance between the active and contemplative life. Those poems which depart from the Jonsonian ideal are characterized by disequilibrium between the active and contemplative life, resulting in the predominance of artifice, subordination of nature, and isolation of art from the community, as exemplified by Thomas Carew's "To Saxham" and Richard Lovelace's "Amyntor's Grove." Architectural features of the English country house are examined to explain the absence of the Jonsonian country-house poem in the eighteenth century. The building tradition praised by Jonson gradually gave way to aesthetic considerations fostered by the professional architect and Palladian architecture, architectural patronage by the middle class, and change in identity of the country house as center of an interdependent community. The country-house poem was revived by W. B. Yeats in his poems in praise of Coole Park. In them Yeats reaffirms Jonsonian values. In contrast to the poems of Yeats, the country-house poems of Sacheverell Sitwell and John Hollander convey a sense of irretrievable loss of the Jonsonian ideal and isolation of the poet. Changing social patterns, ethical values, and aesthetics threaten the survival of the country-house poem, although the ideal continues to reflect a basic longing of humanity for a pastoral retreat where life is simple and innocent.
- The Path to Paradox: The Effects of the Falls in Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Conrad's "Lord Jim"
- This study arranges symptoms of polarity into a causal sequence# beginning with the origin of contrarieties and ending with the ultimate effect. The origin is considered as the fall of man, denoting both a mythic concept and a specific act of betrayal. This study argues that a sense of separateness precedes the fall or act of separation; the act of separation produces various kinds of fragmentation; and the fragments are reunited through paradox. Therefore, a causal relationship exists between the "fall" motif and the concept of paradox.
- The Praeceptor Amoris in English Renaissance Lyric Poetry: One Aspect of the Poet's Voice
- This study focuses on the praeceptor amoris, or teacher of love, as that persona appears in English poetry between 1500 and 1660. Some attention is given to the background, especially Ovid and his Art of Love. A study of the medieval praeceptor indicates that ideas of love took three main courses: a bawdy strain most evident in Goliardic verse and later in the libertine poetry of Donne and the Cavaliers; a short-lived strain of mutual affection important in England principally with Spenser; and the love known as courtly love, which is traced to England through Dante and Petrarch and which is the subject of most English love poetry. In England, the praeceptor is examined according to three functions he performs: defining love, propounding a philosophy about it, and giving advice. Through examining the praeceptor, poets are seen to define love according to the division between body and soul, with the tendency to return to older definitions in force since the troubadours. The poets as a group never agree what love is. Philosophies given by the praeceptor follow the same division and are physically or spiritually oriented. The rise and fall of Platonism in English poetry is examined through the praeceptor amoris who teaches it, as is the rise of libertinism. Shakespeare and Donne are seen to have attempted a reconciliation of the physical and spiritual. Advice, the major function of the praeceptor, is widely variegated. It includes moral suasion, advice on how to court, how to start an affair, how to maintain one, how to end one, and how to cure oneself of love. Advice also includes warnings. The study concludes that English poets stayed with older ideas of love but added new dimensions to the praeceptor amoris, such as adding definition and philosophical discussion to what Ovid had done. They also added to the use of persona as speaker, particularly with Donne's dramatic monologues.
- A Study of "The Rhyming Poem": Text, Interpretation, and Christian Context
- The purpose of the research presented here is to discover the central concept of "The Rhyming Poem," an Old English Christian work known only from a 10th-century manuscript, and to establish the poem's natural place in the body of Old English poetry. Existing critical literature shows little agreement about the poem's origin, vocabulary, plot, or first-person narrator, and no single translation has satisfactorily captured a sense of the poem's unity or of the purposeful vision behind it. The examination of text and context here shows that the Old English poet has created a unified vision in which religious teachings are artistically related through imagery and form. He worked in response to a particular set of conditions in early Church history, employing both pagan and Christian details to convey a message of the superiority of Christianity to idol-worship and, as well, of the validity of the Augustinian position on Original Sin over that of the heretical Pelagians.
- The Critical Response to Philosophical Ideas in Walker Percy's Novels
- Walker Percy differs from other American novelists in that he started writing fiction relatively late in life, after being trained as a physician and after considerable reading and writing in philosophy. Although critics have appreciated Percy's skills as a writer, they have seen Percy above all as a novelist of ideas, and, accordingly, the majority of critical articles and books about Percy has dealt with his themes, especially his philosophical themes, as well as with his philosophical sources. This study explores, therefore, the critical response to philosophical ideas in Percy's five novels to date, as evidenced first by reviews, then by the later articles and books. The critical response developed gradually as critics became aware of Percy's aims and pointed out his use of Christian existentialism and his attacks upon Cartesianism, Stoicism, and modern secular gnosticism. These critical evaluations of Percy's philosophical concerns have sometimes overshadowed interest in his more purely artistic concerns. However, the more a reader understands the underlying philosophical concepts that inform Percy's novels, the more he may understand what Percy is trying to say and the more he may appreciate Percy's accomplishment in expressing his philosophical ideas so skillfully in fictional form. Critics and readers may enjoy Percy's novels without knowing much about his philosophical ideas, but they cannot fully understand them. Thus this study concludes that the critical response to philosophical ideas in Percy's novels has done both Percy and Percy's readers a service.
- The Useful Arts
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This creative nonfiction dissertation is a series of braided narratives that chronicle the author's career as a trombonist in the John Smith Ensemble. As an amateur trombonist, the author is shocked to be hired as a professional musician for an orchestra that plays on PBS and at Carnegie Hall. She quickly realizes, however, that the job requires her to play the trombone quietly in front of an unplugged microphone while a CD recording of another, more talented trombonist is blasted out toward an unknowing audience. The job also requires the author to tour around America. The scenes of from this tour are braided with scenes wherein she reflects on her life as a professional fake musician and her past failed attempts at getting a job.
- Maelstrom: the Last Coyote Tale
- It is a dark future, where corporations have taken the place of governmental bodies, and Earth is a myth, forgotten in the reconstruction after the Second Dark Age. One man--a clone--investigates a murder [that] leads him deep into a spirit quest of his own that will answer the questions of Man's heritage as well as his own identity. This story is a science fiction, but it is similar in structure to a Coyote tale and involves quite a bit of Navajo mythology. The use of Native American imagery is not an attempt to capitalize on another culture, but rather to study the culture and use allegorical elements that transcend many cultures. It must also be noted that non-Native American writers wrote all texts available on the subject. This fact should be taken into consideration by the reader.
- The Rhetoric of Posthumanism in Four Twentieth-Century International Novels
- The dissertation traces the trope of the incomplete character in four twentieth-century cosmopolitan novels that reflect European colonialism in a global context. I argue that, by creating characters sharply aware of the insufficiency of the Self and thus constantly seeking the constitutive participation of the Other, the four authors E. M. Forster, Samuel Beckett, J. M. Coetzee, and Congwen Shen all dramatize the incomplete character as an agent of postcolonial resistance to Western humanism that, tending to enforce the divide between the Self and the Other, provided the epistemological basis for the emergence of European colonialism. For example, Fielding's good-willed aspiration to forge cross-cultural friendship in A Passage to India; Murphy's dogged search for recognition of his Irish identity in Murphy; Susan's unfailing compassion to restore Friday's lost speech in Foe; and Changshun Teng, the Chinese orange-grower's warm-hearted generosity toward his customers in Long River--all these textual occasions dramatize the incomplete character's anxiety over the Other's rejection that will impair the fullness of his or her being, rendering it solitary and empty. I relate this anxiety to the theory of "posthumanism" advanced by such thinkers as Marx, Bakhtin, Sartre, and Lacan; in their texts the humanist view of the individual as an autonomous constitution has undergone a transformation marked by the emphasis on locating selfhood not in the insular and static Self but in the mutable middle space connecting the Self and the Other.
- Diane Di Prima: The Muffled Voice of the Beat Generation
- The Beat rejection of conventional values meant a rejection of marriage, family, and a nine-to-five job, and few women were prepared to make that kind of radical shift in a society that condemned women for behaving the way the Beats behaved. Though she has faced difficulty in getting published, Beat writer Diane Di Prima has been publishing steadily for the past forty years. Di Prima has also lived the life of a Beat, wandering the country, avoiding nine-to-five work and supporting herself with grants, teaching and poetry readings. In spite of her success and adherence to the Beat lifestyle, Di Prima has given birth to five children, all of whom she took with her in her travels. Diane Di Prima has always faced the particular challenge of gaining the acceptance of her male peers amid indifference and hatred toward her sex while not allowing these men to go unanswered.
- The Evolution of Dexter and Me
- The Evolution of Dexter and Me is a collection of one vignette and four short stories. All of the stories deal with young men figuring out and coping with their daily life and environment. The "Dexter stories" deal with a character I developed and evolved, Dexter, a sane young man trying to find the best way to cope in an insane system.
- Eudora Welty's "Flowers for Marjorie" : Toward the Caesura of the Unconscious
- Eudora Welty's short story "Flowers for Marjorie" appears in A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, her first volume of collected stories published in 1941. Since the story's publication, literary scholars have interpreted the protagonist's murder of his wife, and the unusual events that follow, in terms of somatic realities that inform the text. This thesis is a psychoanalytic rereading/rewriting of "Flowers for Maijorie" that attempts to analyze its text as a possible dream narrative. By psychoanalytically rereading/rewriting the narrative in this story as a possible dream narrative, this thesis will attempt to demonstrate how the reader might experientially break through its previous resistance to interpretation, which should encourage a better understanding of the story's narrative ambiguities. The originality of this examination lies in its detailed analysis of the story's text from a psychoanalytic economy, thus providing perhaps the most detailed analysis of its text to date.