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 Department: Department of English
Nym (A Novel)

Nym (A Novel)

Date: August 2016
Creator: Sweeney, Mark
Description: This dissertation consists of a literary novel. A preface deals with issue of introducing philosophical ideas into fictional works, with special emphasis on the techniques of ambiguity and destabilization of reality, as deployed in the novel.
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Monsters Like Us: Reexamining “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” Through the Decades

Monsters Like Us: Reexamining “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” Through the Decades

Date: May 2016
Creator: Norton, Elizabeth Harmon
Description: The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiple versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in concert and determine the reason for their continued presence in the American cultural landscape. To do so I will look at the novel and four films and examine the context in which they were created. In reexamining the novel and films, a central theme begins to emerge: interiority. Fear in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" moves from an external to an internal threat. The bodily locus of the monstrous other has been re-purposed and re-projected outward. The internal nature of the monstrous threat is displayed in the narrative’s use of production and distribution, mental health professionals, pseudo-families, and the vilification of sleep. Finally, this paper will examine the studio influence on the various films and their impact on the relative endings.
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Ours is the Kingdom of Heaven: Racial Construction of Early American Christian Identities

Ours is the Kingdom of Heaven: Racial Construction of Early American Christian Identities

Date: May 2016
Creator: Robinson, Heather L
Description: This project interrogates how religious performance, either authentic or contrived, aids in the quest for freedom for oppressed peoples; how the rhetoric of the Enlightenment era pervades literatures delivered or written by Native Americans and African Americans; and how religious modes, such as evoking scripture, performing sacrifices, or relying upon providence, assist oppressed populations in their roles as early American authors and speakers. Even though the African American and Native American populations of early America before the eighteenth century were denied access to rights and freedom, they learned to manipulate these imposed constraints--renouncing the expectation that they should be subordinate and silent--to assert their independent bodies, voices, and spiritual identities through the use of literary expression. These performative strategies, such as self-fashioning, commanding language, destabilizing republican rhetoric, or revising narrative forms, become the tools used to present three significant strands of identity: the individual person, the racialized person, and the spiritual person. As each author resists the imposed restrictions of early American ideology and the resulting expectation of inferior behavior, he/she displays abilities within literature (oral and written forms) denied him/her by the political systems of the early republican and early national eras. Specifically, they each represent themselves in three ...
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The Laureates’ Lens: Exposing the Development of Literary History and Literary Criticism From Beneath the Dunce Cap

The Laureates’ Lens: Exposing the Development of Literary History and Literary Criticism From Beneath the Dunce Cap

Date: December 2015
Creator: Moore, Lindsay Emory
Description: 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 ...
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“No Paper Cowboys”: Stories

“No Paper Cowboys”: Stories

Date: December 2015
Creator: Agnew, Bryn
Description: Equilibrium is paramount in the crafting of a story, and for every writer this sense of balance is different. The writer must manage a balance of showing and telling, of denotation and connotation, and forever strive to find the perfect word in both the denotative and connotative sense, so that the reader and writer can meeting in a living story—both in the ink on the page and the remaining white space.
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Searching for a Savior

Searching for a Savior

Date: December 2015
Creator: Batch, Julia
Description: This collection of essays includes a preference that investigates the role and importance of setting and character in a nonfiction narrative. The preface assesses the writings of four great authors, examining how each author use setting and characterization to further the purpose of their story. This collection focuses on four different issues that the author has wrestled with for two decades. While “Desperado” is an investigation into the problems within her own family, “Being Black Me” highlights the authors struggle against the racial inequality her hometown. “Voices In The Dark”, the author analyze how the abuse she suffered as a child has influenced her life and contributed to a drinking problem that is explored in a later essay “Alors On Danse”.
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Laws of Inheritance

Laws of Inheritance

Date: August 2015
Creator: Kilpatrick, Steven
Description: This thesis is a collection of poems that meditates on the legacies we inherit and the legacies we leave behind.
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“Wolf Man”

“Wolf Man”

Date: August 2015
Creator: Flanagan, Ryan
Description: 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.
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Down and Out: A Novel

Down and Out: A Novel

Date: May 2015
Creator: Briseño, J. Andrew
Description: 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.
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Marvels of the Invisible

Marvels of the Invisible

Date: May 2015
Creator: Molberg, Jenny
Description: 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 ...
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The Palestinian Archipelago and the Construction of Palestinian Identity After Sixty-five Years of Diaspora: the Rebirth of the Nation

The Palestinian Archipelago and the Construction of Palestinian Identity After Sixty-five Years of Diaspora: the Rebirth of the Nation

Date: May 2015
Creator: Shaheen, Basima
Description: 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 ...
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Through an Open Window

Through an Open Window

Date: May 2015
Creator: Bingham, Christie
Description: The poems in this collection are elegiac; celebrations of losses and failures, tributes to the daily doldrums that are at the center of human experience. They threaten to expose the uncertainty that exists and refuses to exist in our everyday lives. They explore the otherness associated with the individual and often turn to the universal formulas of music and physics to make order of the world around them. Often times the Speaker finds that the seeming chaos manifests within her already orderly life, the daily routines of work and family. Poetic magic, so to speak, weds this ordered chaos to the laws of nature and its routines, especially birds, which makes a recurrent appearance throughout the manuscript.
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Vanishing Act

Vanishing Act

Date: May 2015
Creator: Pryor, Caitlin
Description: 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, ...
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The Necessity of Movement

The Necessity of Movement

Date: August 2014
Creator: Allen, Emily
Description: 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.
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Networks of Social Debt in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Networks of Social Debt in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Date: August 2014
Creator: Criswell, Christopher C.
Description: 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 ...
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Penumbra

Penumbra

Date: August 2014
Creator: Brizendine, Elizabeth Katherine
Description: This thesis consists of a collection of poems. The poems entail a discussion of the weight of human decisions with regards to gender, sexuality, music, religion, and environment. A great deal of these pieces are in conversation with a type of death or an eclipsed ending in order to examine the outcome of each varied individual response to mortality.
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Room of Windows

Room of Windows

Date: August 2014
Creator: Lynch, Erin
Description: This thesis consists of a collection of poems and a critical preface. The preface examines the collaborative process as integral to art-making. Using a range of poems and prosody essays as support, I argue that reciprocal relationships are intrinsic to poetry, providing a model for actual collaboration. I also examine my own collaboration with a visual artist, which resulted in many of the poems in this collection.
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Somebody Else’s Second Chance

Somebody Else’s Second Chance

Date: August 2014
Creator: Heiden, Elishia
Description: 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 ...
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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.
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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 ...
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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.
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Private Affections: Miscegenation and the Literary Imagination in Israel-Palestine

Private Affections: Miscegenation and the Literary Imagination in Israel-Palestine

Date: May 2014
Creator: Cohen, Hella Bloom
Description: 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.
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“True Image Pictur’d”: Metaphor, Epistemology, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets

“True Image Pictur’d”: Metaphor, Epistemology, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Date: May 2014
Creator: Kellogg, Amanda O.
Description: 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 ...
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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 ...
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