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 Degree Discipline: English
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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Patrol: Excerpts From a Novel

Patrol: Excerpts From a Novel

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Date: August 2014
Creator: Stringer, Hillary
Description: 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 ...
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Recklessness and Light

Recklessness and Light

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Date: August 2014
Creator: McCord, Kyle
Description: 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.
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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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