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 Department: Department of English
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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'My Tattooed Mind'

'My Tattooed Mind'

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Date: May 2016
Creator: Mayo, Kaleb R
Description: This thesis features a collection of nonfiction essays.
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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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Welcome to the Rest of It

Welcome to the Rest of It

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Date: May 2016
Creator: Murphy, April Josephine
Description: This creative nonfiction dissertation is a book of essays that explore the author's life and relationship to Upstate New York. The project also connects this experience to gender and trauma. Though the topics range from local history to cosmetic surgical procedures, the essays are collected by how they illuminate cultural tensions and universal truths. These essays are preceded by a critical preface that examines the differences between essays collections, books of essays, and argues for the recognition of narrative nonfiction as an artistic choice.
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With the Earth in Mind: Ecological Grief in the Contemporary American Novel

With the Earth in Mind: Ecological Grief in the Contemporary American Novel

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Date: May 2016
Creator: Reis, Ashley Elaine
Description: "With the Earth in Mind" responds to some of the most cutting-edge research in the field of ecocriticism, which centers on ecological loss and the grief that ensues. Ecocritics argue that ecological objects of loss abound--for instance, species are disappearing and landscapes are becoming increasingly compromised--and yet, such loss is often deemed "ungrievable." While humans regularly grieve human losses, we understand very little about how to genuinely grieve the loss of nonhuman being, natural environments, and ecological processes. My dissertation calls attention to our society's tendency to participate in superficial nature-nostalgia, rather than active and engaged environmental mourning, and ultimately activism. Herein, I investigate how an array of postwar and contemporary American novels represent a complex relationship between environmental degradation and mental illness. Literature, I suggest, is crucial to investigations of this problem because it can reveal the human consequences of ecological loss in a way that is unavailable to political, philosophical, scientific, and even psychological discourse.
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Ghost Machine

Ghost Machine

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Date: December 2015
Creator: Whitby, Bess
Description: This thesis consists of a collection of poems. By virtue of its content and arrangement, the collection ruminates on and attempts to work through the problem of corporeality and bodily experience: the anxieties surrounding illness, mortality, and the physicality of contemporary life. This collection explores the tension inherent in the mind/body duality and, rather than prescribing solutions, offers multiple avenues and perspectives through which to view bodily experience, as well as how that experience affects an individual’s identity, agency, and sense of self.
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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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Bass Reeves: a History • a Novel • a Crusade, Volume 1: the Rise

Bass Reeves: a History • a Novel • a Crusade, Volume 1: the Rise

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Date: August 2015
Creator: Thompson, Sidney
Description: 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.
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Derivation: Excerpts From a Novel

Derivation: Excerpts From a Novel

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Date: August 2015
Creator: Davis, Matthew
Description: 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.
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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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(Some More) American Literature

(Some More) American Literature

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Date: May 2015
Creator: VandeZande, Zach
Description: 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.
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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 Angular Degrees of Freedom” and Other Stories

“The Angular Degrees of Freedom” and Other Stories

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Date: December 2014
Creator: Feagin, Aprell McQueeney
Description: The preface, " Performing Brain Surgery: The Problematic Nature of Endings in Short Fiction," deals with the many and varied difficulties short story writers encounter when attempting to craft endings. Beginning with Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor and moving to my own work, I discuss some of the obscure criteria used to designate a successful ending, as well as the more concrete idea of the ending as a unifying element. Five short stories make up the remainder of this thesis: "In-between Girls," "Crocodile Man," "Surprising Things, Sometimes Amusing," "Good Jewelry," and "The Angular Degrees of Freedom."
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"Stealing Dreams" and Other Stories

"Stealing Dreams" and Other Stories

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Date: December 2014
Creator: Matthews, Elise
Description: The critical preface, "Learning to Break the Rules" discusses workshop rules as guidelines, as well as how and why I learned to break them. The creative portion of this thesis is made up of eight short stories: "The Many Incarnations of Blazer Chief," "Anna's Monsters," "The Pecan Tree's Daughter," "When the Seas Emptied," "The Umbrella Thief," "How to Forget," "Fracture," and "Stealing Dreams."
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Elizabeth Bishop in Brasil: An Ongoing Acculturation

Elizabeth Bishop in Brasil: An Ongoing Acculturation

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Date: August 2014
Creator: Neely, Elizabeth
Description: Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979), one of the foremost modern American poets, lived in Brasil during seventeen-odd years beginning in 1951. During this time she composed the poetry collection Questions of Travel, stand-alone poems, and fragments as well as prose pieces and translations. This study builds on the work of critics such as Brett Millier and Lorrie Goldensohn who have covered Bishop’s poetry during her Brasil years. However, most American critics have lacked expertise in both Brasilian culture and the Portuguese language that influenced Bishop’s poetry. Since 2000, in contrast, Brasilian critic Paulo Henriques Britto has explored issues of translating Bishop’s poetry into Portuguese, while Maria Lúcia Martins and Regina Przybycien have examined Bishop’s Brasil poems from a Brasilian perspective. However, American and Brasilian scholars have yet to recognize Bishop’s journey of acculturation as displayed through her poetry chronologically or the importance of her belated reception by Brasilian literary and popular culture. This study argues that Bishop’s Brasil poetry reveals her gradual transformation from a tourist outsider to a cultural insider through her encounters with Brasilian history, culture, language, and politics. It encompasses Bishop’s published and unpublished Brasil poetry, including drafts from the Elizabeth Bishop Papers at Vassar College. On a secondary ...
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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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