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 Degree Discipline: English
After the Planes

After the Planes

Date: May 2012
Creator: Boswell, Timothy
Description: The dissertation consists of a critical preface and a novel. The preface analyzes what it terms “polyvocal” novels, or novels employing multiple points of view, as well as “layered storytelling,” or layers of textuality within novels, such as stories within stories. Specifically, the first part of the preface discusses polyvocality in twenty-first century American novels, while the second part explores layered storytelling in novels responding to World War II or the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The preface analyzes the advantages and difficulties connected to these techniques, as well as their aptitude for reflecting the fractured, disconnected, and subjective nature of the narratives we construct to interpret traumatic experiences. It also acknowledges the necessity—despite its inherent limitations—of using language to engage with this fragmentation and cope with its challenges. The preface uses numerous novels as examples and case studies, and it also explores these concepts and techniques in relation to the process of writing the novel After the Planes. After the Planes depicts multiple generations of a family who utilize storytelling as a means to work through grief, hurt, misunderstanding, and loss—whether from interpersonal conflicts or from war. Against her father’s wishes, a young woman moves in with her nearly-unknown grandfather, ...
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Date: May 2012
Creator: Tolle, Andrew
Description: This study explores Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s use of the dramatic form to challenge Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism by offering feminist adaptations of Darwin’s theories of natural and sexual selection. As she does in her career-defining manifesto, Women & Economics (1898), Gilman in her lesser-known plays deploys her own brand of reform Darwinism to serve the feminist cause. Despite her absence in histories of modern drama, Gilman actively participated in the establishment and development of this literary, historical, and cultural movement. After situating Gilman in the context of nineteenth-century naturalist theater, this thesis examines two short dramatic dialogues she published in 1890, “The Quarrel,” and “Dame Nature Interviewed,” as well as two full-length plays, Interrupted (1909) and the Balsam Fir (1910). These plays demonstrate Gilman’s efforts to use the dramatic form in her early plays to “rehearse” for Women & Economics, and in her later drama, to “stage” the theories she presents in that book.
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A New Literary Realism: Artistic Renderings of Ethnicity, Identity, and Sexuality in the Narratives of Philip Roth

A New Literary Realism: Artistic Renderings of Ethnicity, Identity, and Sexuality in the Narratives of Philip Roth

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Date: May 2012
Creator: Harvell, Marta Krogh
Description: This dissertation explores Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories (1959), the Ghost Writer (1979), the Counterlife (1986), the Facts (1988), Operation Shylock (1993), Sabbath's Theater (1995),and the Human Stain (2000), arguing that Roth relishes the telling of the story and the search for self within that telling. with attention to narrative technique and its relation to issues surrounding reality and identity, Roth's narratives stress unreliability, causing Roth to create characters searching for a more complex interpretation of self. Chapter I examines Roth’s negotiation of dual identities as Neil Klugman in Goodbye, Columbus feels alienated and displaced from Christianized America. the search for identity and the merging of American Christianity and Judaism remain a focus in Chapter II, which explores the implications of how, in the Ghost Writer, a young Nathan Zuckerman visits his mentor E.I. Lonoff to find him living in what he believes to be a non-Jewish environment—the American wilderness. Chapter II also examines the difficulties of cultural assimilation in "Eli, the Fanatic," in which Eli must shed outward appearances of Judaism to fit into the mostly Protestant community of Woodenton. Relative to the negotiation of multiple identities, Chapter III considers Sabbath’s attempt, in Sabbath’s Theater, to reconcile his ...
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Road Debris

Road Debris

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Date: May 2012
Creator: Dewoody, Dale W.
Description: This dissertation comprises two parts: Part I, which discusses the growing trend in project books in contemporary poetry, and Part II, a collection of poems titled, Road Debris. There is an increasing trend in the number of project books, which are collections of poetry unified in both thematic and formal ways. the individual poems in a project book share overt connections which allow the book to work on many different levels, blending elements of fiction and non-fiction or sharing a specific theme or speaker. While these books have the advantage of being easily memorable, which might gain poets an edge in book contests, there are also many risks involved. the main issue surrounding project books is if the individual poems can justify the book, or do they seem too repetitive or forced. As more poets, especially newer ones, try to use the project book as a shortcut to publication, it can result in poorly written poems forced to fit into a particular concept. By examining three successful cotemporary project books—The Quick of It, by Eamon Grennan; Incident Light, by H. L. Hix; and Romey’s Order by Astory Riley—this essay discusses how these books work in order to understand the potential ...
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Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Date: May 2012
Creator: Stober, Katharyn L.
Description: This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been seemingly ignored; thus, my research investigates the enmeshed relationship between these two areas of study. Not only do patriotic sentiment and humor frequently overlap, they often form a causational relationship wherein a writer’s rhetorical invocation of shared cultural experiences creates humorous self-awareness while “inside” jokes which reference unique Anglo-specific behaviors or collective memories promote a positive identity with the culture in question. Drawing on and extending the work of James Kincaid’s Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Harold Nicolson’s “The English Sense of Humor,” and Bergson’s and Freud’s theories of humor as a social construct, I question how this reciprocated ...
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Understanding the Owner’s Manual: the United States Constitution Examined Through the Lens of Technical Communication

Understanding the Owner’s Manual: the United States Constitution Examined Through the Lens of Technical Communication

Date: May 2012
Creator: Elerson, Crystal
Description: This dissertation explores the collaborative process and use of language that went into the creating the United States Constitution in 1787. From a technical communication perspective, the collaborative process explored did not develop any new theories on collaboration, but instead, allows scholars to track the emergence of a well-documented America collaborative process from the early period of the developing American nation on a document that has remained in use for over 235 years. in addition to examining this collaborative process, the author also discusses the use of passive voice and negative language in the first article of the Constitution.
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Noctilucent

Noctilucent

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Date: December 2011
Creator: Bush, Mary Gwen
Description: This dissertation is composed of two parts. Part I discusses the evolution of meditative poetry as a genre, with a particular emphasis on the influence of women poets and feminist critical theory. Part II is a collection of poems. Although several popular and critically-acclaimed poets working today write meditative poems, meditative poetry as a genre has not been systematically examined since M.H. Abrams’s essay on the meditative mode in Romantic poetry, “Structure and Style in the Greater Romantic Lyric.” Because one of the driving forces of meditative poetry is a longing for, or recognition of, a state of perception that lies between individual being and some form of universal ordering principle, meditative poetry might seem to be antithetical to a postmodern world that is fragmentary, contingent, and performative; indeed, earlier definitions of meditative poetry, tied to historical and cultural understandings of the individual and the Universal, no longer reflect “how we know” but only “how we knew.” However, this essay argues that there is a contemporary meditative structure that allows for a continued relationship between the individual and the Universal without resorting to the essentialism implicit in the genre as traditionally described. This new structure owes much to feminist theory, ...
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Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Date: December 2011
Creator: Tatum, Brian Shane
Description: This thesis investigates the similarities in the study of time and space in literature and science during the modern period. Specifically, it focuses on the portrayal of time and space within Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1899-1900), and compares the ideas presented with those later scientifically formulated by Albert Einstein in his special and general theories of relativity (1905-1915). Although both novels precede Einstein’s theories, they reveal advanced complex ideas of time and space very similar to those later argued by the iconic physicist. These ideas follow a linear progression including a sense of temporal dissonance, the search for a communal sense of the present, the awareness and expansion of the individual’s sense of the present, and the effect of mass on surrounding space. This approach enhances readings of Dracula and Lord Jim, illuminating the fascination with highly refined notions of time and space within modern European culture.
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A Boy in a Canoe

A Boy in a Canoe

Date: August 2011
Creator: Parr, David
Description: The dissertation consists of a collection of personal essays about hunting and fishing. Because the essays are narratives and contain dialogue, characterization, description, themes, etc., they fall under the genre of creative nonfiction. The dissertation has two parts. Part I consists of an essay that discusses the author’s struggle to combine creative nonfiction with outdoor writing and also describes the author’s dilemma of writing about hunting, a topic that is often controversial at the university, while a graduate student. Part II of the dissertation consists of narratives that recount the author’s hunting and fishing experiences that occurred in North Texas and in the mountains of New Mexico. The essays discuss fishing for trout and hunting for deer, wild boars, quail, and duck. Three major themes are developed throughout the dissertation. The first theme describes the close relationship that exists between the author and his father. This closeness is partly due to the time that they have shared during decades of hunting and fishing together. The second theme discusses the ethics of hunting and especially focuses on which methods of hunting are ethical and which methods are not. The third theme explores the complex and sometimes unpleasant interactions that occur between ...
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Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Date: August 2011
Creator: Burns, Anthony Louis
Description: The interjection of a new and dynamically different reading of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is imperative, if scholars want to clearly see many of the hidden facets of the novel that have gone unexamined because of out-dated scholarship. Ian Watt’s assumption that Sterne “would probably have been the supreme figure among eighteenth-century novelists” (291) if he had not tried to be so odd, and the conclusion that he draws, that “Tristram Shandy is not so much a novel as a parody of a novel” (291), is incorrect. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Sterne was not burlesquing other novelists, but instead, was engaging with themes that are now being examined by postmodern theories of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jean François Lyotard: themes like the impenetrability of identity (“Don’t puzzle me” (TS 7.33.633)), the insufficiency of language (“Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words” (5.6.429)), and the unavailability of permanence (“Time wastes too fast” (9.8.754)). I actively engage with their theories to deconstruct unexamined themes inside Tristram Shandy, and illuminate postmodern elements inside the novel. However, I do not argue that Tristram Shandy is postmodern. Instead, I argue that if the reader examines the novel outside ...
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