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.
This thesis consists of a collection of poems and a critical preface. The preface is a discussion of Elizabeth Bishop's descriptive mode, as demonstrated by three of her poems: "Sandpiper," "The Monument," and "Santarém." I argue for Bishop's descriptions as creative acts, and examine the gestures that help her make the reader aware of the shaping power she exercises.
In this collection of short stories, I abduct experiences from my own life and take them on an imaginative journey. I experiment with elements of structure and point of view, often incorporating the magical or surreal to amplify the narrator’s internal landscape. As demonstrated in the title story, “Almost Astronauts,” these stories all deal with a sudden and sometimes destructive shift in the narrator’s perspective.
The following collection represents the critical and creative work produced during my doctoral program in English. The dissertation consists of Part I, a critical preface, and Part II, a collection of seven short stories and two nonfiction essays. Part I, which contains the critical preface entitled "What to Say and How to Say It," examines the role of voice in discussions of contemporary literature. The critical preface presents a definition of voice and identifies examples of voice-driven writing in contemporary literature, particularly from the work of Mary Robison, Dorothy Allison, and Kathy Acker. In addition, the critical preface also discusses how the use of flavor, tone, and content contribute to voice, both in work of famous authors and in my own writing. In Part II of my dissertation, I present the creative portion of my work. Part II contains seven works of short fiction, titled "Among Waitresses," "The Lion Tamer," "Restoration Services," "Hospitality," "Blood Relation," "Managerial Timber," and "Velma A Cappella." Each work develops a voice-driven narrative through the use of flavor, tone, and content. Also, two nonfiction essays, titled "Fentanyl and Happy Meals" and "Tracks," close out the collection. "Fentanyl and Happy Meals" describes the impact of methamphetamine addiction on family relationships, while "Tracks" focuses on the degradation of the natural world by human waste and other forms of pollution. In total, this collection demonstrates my approach to both scholarly and creative writing, and I am grateful for the University of North Texas for the opportunity to develop academically and achieve my goals.
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."
This dissertation contains two parts: Part I, which discusses the elegy of possessive intent, a subgenre of the contemporary American elegy; and Part II, Antigravity, a collection of poems. English elegies have been closely rooted to a specific grief, making the poems closer to occasional poems. The poet—or at least the poet’s speaker—seeks some kind of public consolation for (often) a private loss. The Americanized form does stray from the traditional elegy yet retains some of its characteristics. Some American elegies memorialize failed romantic relationships rather than the dead. In their memorials, these speakers seek a completion for the lack the broken relationship has created in the speakers’ lives. What they can’t replace, they substitute with something personal. As the contemporary poem becomes further removed from tradition, it’s no surprise that the elegy has evolved as well. Discussions of elegies have never ventured into the type of elegy that concerns itself with the sort of unacknowledged loss found in some contemporary American poems of unrequited love. These poems all have speakers who willfully refuse to acknowledge the loss of their love-objects and strive to maintain control/ownership of their beloveds even in the face of rejection.
This collection consists of a critical preface and nine essays. The preface analyzes, first, how the imagination influences the personal journey of a writer, and second, the techniques authors use, mainly form, time, and space, to enact the imagination and propel the reader into an imagined narrative. The essays explore themes of loss, mental illness, the rift between the “real” and the “imagined” life, and the intangibility of memory itself. Collection includes the essays “Into the Snow,” “No Longer a Part,” “Borderland,” “Still Wounds,” “What Stays in Las Vegas,” “Remnants,” “The Root,” “Your Father,” and “The Land Lord.”
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.
The chakra system consists of seven energetic vortexes ascending up the spine that connect to every aspect of human existence. These vortexes become blocked and unblocked through the course of a life, these openings and closings have physiological and mental repercussions. Knowledge of these physical and mental manifestations, indicate where the chakra practitioner is in need, the practitioner can then manipulate their mind and body to create a desired outcome. These manipulations are based upon physical exercises and associative meditations for the purpose of expanding the human experience. As a poem can be thought of as the articulation of the human experience, and the chakra system can be thought of as a means to understand and enhance that experience, it is interesting and worthwhile leap to explore the how the chakras can develop and refresh the way we read and write poetry. This critical preface closely reads seven poems, one through each chakra, finding what the chakras unveil. Here, each chakra is considered for its dynamic creative capabilities and for its beneficial potentiality in the reading and writing process, finding each chakra provides tools: idea generators with the potential to free the poet from usual patterns of creativity while broadening vision and expressivity. In this collection of poetry poems are experiences chopped into consumable units that show and tell the constant negotiation between what is actually happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening.
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 sportsmen when they encounter each other while hunting and fishing. This theme explores the give and take attitude that must exist in order for sportsmen to get along. This attitude is necessary because no two outdoorsmen view the outdoors and hunting and fishing in quite the same way.
The collection concerns itself with race, gender, masculinity, marginalization, the act of violence as a means of self expression, identity and the performance of identity, love, and loss. The collection also uses historical events-more specifically, events that are central to black culture in Northeast, Ohio- to situate the characters and witness their response to these historical events. I strive to illustrate blackness as both political and fragmented with the characters in my collection. My characters believe that what they are doing-exacting violence, abusing women, disrespecting each other- is somehow the normative; that somehow what it is that they have learned is how they should perform black identity.
This collection of personal essays about incest, abuse, and depression explores the lasting effects of an invisible childhood. The essays follow the protagonist from the age of five to her early twenties. Her brother, at a young age, becomes sexually abusive of her and her sisters, and her parents fail to protect their daughters. The family is divided as the older girls strive to defend their little sisters, while their parents attempt to excuse their son. When her brother is finally sent away, the protagonist is left to salvage what remains of her relationships with her parents.
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.
This two-part thesis includes a critical preface and a collection of my poems. Using three poems-Louise Glück's "Lullaby," Bob Hicok's "Poem for My Mother's Hysterectomy," and Nick Flynn's "Memento Mori"-the critical preface examines how, in poetry, the transformation of a body negotiates trauma and triggers a conceptual shift, the creation and revision of identity, and the release of the duende's inspirational force. The collection of poetry that follows seeks to transfigure the body as a way to explore the nuanced traumas of human experience.
This collection consists of a critical preface and nine short stories. Extrapolating from the work and legacy of Michel Foucault, the preface theorizes a genre of “heterotopian fiction” as constitutive of a fundamentally ethical approach to narrative creativity, distinguishing its functional and methodological characteristics from works that privilege aesthetic, thematic, or technical artistry. The stories explore spaces of madness, alterity, incomprehensibility, and liminal experience. Collection includes the stories “Mexico,” “Civilizations without Boats,” The Widow’s Mother,” “Guys Like Us,” “Everything You’d Hoped It Would Be,” “A Concerned Friend,” “Crisis Hotline,” “Coast to Coast,” and “The Ghosts of Rich Men.”
The essays featured in this collection highlight the gaps, as well as parallels, between mental illness and the human condition. In "Appearances," the narrator struggles with her own visual identity especially after reflecting on her Mom's own lengthy history with the mirror. In "Migrations," the lyrical voice of the narrator carries the reader through the typical day of a clinically depressed female character. Lastly, "Attempting the Fall," addresses the issues society has with mental illness by following the narrator from her suicide attempt to the mental ward.
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 ...
"Counting Out The Harvest" is a collection of poems exploring intimate encounters. The poems reflect on encounters with memories, family, and the natural and cosmic worlds. In one of the poems, "Red-Throated Anole," the speaker works desperately to save a small dying lizard. In "Ice Storm, Post-Divorce," the speaker attempts to decipher a cluster of ladybugs taking refuge in her room. In the title poem, a couple wonders patiently if their crop will eventually grow. In each of these poems there is a present longing for the construction of a meaningful identity by means of the encounter, but the intersection between speaker and world falls short of satisfaction, whether the faultiness lies in the body's inability to find full sustenance, or in the ever-changing fluidity of memory to find stability. But the poems progress from pressing against this difficulty toward finding a contented resignation to the world's cyclical order. The final line of the manuscript, "disrobe a layer to begin again," indicates an arrival at satisfaction, which is found ultimately in continuation.
This collection consists of a critical preface and five linked short stories. The preface analyzes the usage of violence in literate and other forms of media, and specifically the ways in which literature can address violence without aggrandizing or stylizing it. The stories explore this idea through the lens of the lives of two young men, following them from boyhood marked by violence to adulthood crushed by the trauma of the American Civil War. Collection includes the stories "Dead Foxes," "Cow Pen," "Fatherless," "Woodsmoke," and "Brotherhood."
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.
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.
This novel operates on two levels. First, it is a story concerning the fate of a young woman named Raven Adams, who is prompted into journeying westward after witnessing what she believes to be an omen. On another level, however, the novel is intended to be a philosophical questioning of western modes of “science-based” singular conceptualizations of reality, which argue that there is only one “real world” and anyone who deviates from this is “crazy,” “stupid,” or “wrong.” Raven as a character sees the world in terms of what might be called “magical thinking” in modern psychology; her closest relationship is with a living embodiment of a story, the ancient philosopher Diogenes, which she believes is capable of possessing others and directing her journey. As the story continues the reader comes to understand Raven’s perceptions of her reality, leading to a conceptualization of reality as being “multi-layered.” Eventually these layers are collapsed and unified in the final chapters. The novel makes use of many reference points including philosophy, classical mythology, folklore, religion, and internet social media in order to guide the reader along Raven’s story.
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 level, this study examines a reverse acculturation in how Brasilian popular and literary communities have increasingly focused on Bishop since her death, culminating in the 2013 film, Flores Raras (Reaching for the Moon in English). Understanding this extremely rare and sustained intercultural junction of Bishop in Brasil, a junction that no American poet has made since, adds a crucial angle to twentieth-first century transnational literary perspectives.
Male or female, young or old, the characters of this collection inhabit a liminal space of trauma and social dislocation in which elements of the real and fabulous coexist in equal measure. The ghosts that populate the stories are as much the ghosts of the living, as they are the ghosts of the dead. They represent individual conscience and an inescapable connection to the past.
Women authors in mid to late nineteenth century American society were unafraid to shed the old domestic ideology and set new examples for women outside of racial and gender spheres. This essay focuses on the ways in which Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons, Louisa May Alcott's Behind a Mask, and Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House represent the function of fashion and attire in literature. Each author encourages readers to examine dress in a way that defies the typical domestic ideology of nineteenth century America. I want my readers to understand the role of fashion in literature as I progress through each work and ultimately show how each female author and protagonist set a new example for womanhood through their fashion choices.
Investigating elements of the creative process in the work of three poets: James Wright, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, and Pegeen Kelly. Each poet deploys a different method for access to those experiences that lie at the edge of accessible language. Each method is discussed and its deployment illustrated. Wright leads us from the sensory world to the supersensual. Schnackenberg makes use of the formal device of the fairy tale. Kelly immerses in the logic of dreams. Drawing on Elaine Scarry's theory of the imagination, the case is made that the poetic act is a dialectic between the poet and the sensory world, in which perception and imagination are equally important.
This dissertation tracks the intimate relationship between writing and the body to add new dimensions to humoral criticism and textual studies of Renaissance literature. Most humor theory focuses on the volatile, permeable nature of the body, and its vulnerability to environmental stimuli, neglecting the important role that written texts play in this economy of fluids. I apply the principles of humor theory to the study of handwritten and printed texts. This approach demonstrates that the textual economy of the period—reading, writing, publishing, exchanging letters, performing all of the above on stage—mirrors the economy of fluids that governed the humoral body. Early modern readers and writers could imagine textual activities not only as cerebral, abstract concepts, but also as sexual activities, as processes of ingestion and regurgitation. My study of ink combines humoral, historical materialist, and ecocritical modes of study. Materialist critics have examined the quill, paper, and printing press as metaphors for the body; however, the ink within them remains unexamined. This dissertation infuses the figurative body of the press with circulating passions, and brings to bear the natural, biochemical properties that ink lends to the texts it creates. Considering the influence of written and printed materials on the body in early modern poetry and drama requires consideration of the murky liquid from which these texts were composed. For early moderns, writing began with the precise, anatomical slicing of a goose feather, with the crushing of oak galls into wine or rainwater, with the application of heat and ferrous sulfate. These raw materials underwent a violent transformation to fill early modern inkwells. As a result of that mystical concoction, the fluid inside these vessels became humoral. The ink on a page represented one person's passions potentially invading the body of another. Therefore, ink serves as more than a metaphor for ...
This dissertation contains two parts: Part I, "Self-Elegy as Self-Creation Myth," which discusses the self-elegy, a subgenre of the contemporary American elegy; and Part II, For the Ruined Body, a collection of poems. Traditionally elegies are responses to death, but modern and contemporary self-elegies question the kinds of death, responding to metaphorical not literal deaths. One category of elegy is the self-elegy, which turns inward, focusing on loss rather than death, mourning aspects of the self that are left behind, forgotten, or aspects that never existed. Both prospective and retrospective, self-elegies allow the self to be reinvented in the face of loss; they mourn past versions of selves as transient representations of moments in time. Self-elegies pursue the knowledge that the selves we create are fleeting and flawed, like our bodies. However by acknowledging painful self-truths, speakers in self-elegies exert agency; they participate in their own creation myths, actively interpreting and incorporating experiences into their identity by performing dreamlike scenarios and sustaining an intimate, but self-critical, voice in order to: one, imagine an alternate self to create distance and investigate the evolution of self-identity, employing hindsight and self-criticism to offer advice; two, reinterpret the past and its role in creating and shaping identity, employing a tone of resignation towards the changing nature of the self. This self-awareness, not to be confused with self-acceptance, is often the only consolation found.
This study explores how three English romances of the late fourteenth century-Geoffrey Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight-employ economic exchange as a tool to illustrate community ideals. Although gift-giving and commerce are common motifs in medieval romance, these three romances depict acts of generosity and exchange that demonstrate fundamental principles of proper behavior by uniting characters in the poems in spite of social divisions such as gender or social class. Economic imagery in fourteenth-century romances merits particular consideration because of Richard II's prolific expenditure, which created such turbulence that the peasants revolted in 1381. The court's openhanded spending led to social unrest, but in romances a character's largesse strengthens community bonds by showing that all members of a group participate in an idealized gift economy. Positioned within the context of economic tensions, exchange in romances can lead readers to reexamine notions of group identity. Chestre's Sir Launfal unites its community under secular principles of economic exchange and evaluation. Using similar motifs of exchange, the Gawain-poet makes Christian and chivalric ideals apparent through Gawain's service and generosity to all those who follow the Christian faith. Further, Chaucer's Franklin's Tale portrays hospitality as a tool to create pleasure, the ultimate goal of service. Although they present different types of group identity, these romances specify that generosity and commerce can illustrate the ideals of a poem's community and demonstrate to the audience model forms of behavior.
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.
The novella, The Girl Disappeared, focuses on the life of Emalia, a street kid from Mexico. She is taken from the streets of Veracruz and forced into a life of prostitution on the fictitious island of La Isla de Santa Flora. The primary conflict that drives the action of the story is her pending choice between escaping her life of slavery and saving another young woman who is on the verge of being forced into a life of prostitution as well. The novella, as a literary piece, dwells on the question of character agency and explores the multilayered nature of code switching. Language for these women becomes a tool in their struggle against their captives and a means of self-preservation, or sanctuary, as they use their growing bilingualism to foment a limited agency, to act in their own defense.
The stories in this collection represent an increasingly transcultural world by exploring the intersection of cultures and identities in border spaces, particularly the Mexican-American border. Characters, regardless of ethnicity, experience the effects of migration and deportation in schools, hometowns, relationships, and elsewhere. The collection as a whole focuses on the issues and themes found in Mexican-American literature, such as loss, separation, and the search for identity.
The preface to this collection "Dust Clouding: Ambiguity and the Poetic Image," highlights the ways in which poets such as W.S Merwin and Donald Revell use ambiguity and the poetic image to strengthen their poems and encourage equality between reader and writer. Hand Amputees have an Altered Perception of Images at Arm's Length is a collection of poems and poem like adventures.
The preface, "Against Buses: Charles Baxter and the Contemporary Epiphany" deals with the epiphany as a potential ending to short stories. Baxter holds that epiphanies are trite and without purpose in today's fiction. I argue that Baxter's view, while not without merit, is limiting. Beginning with James Joyce and Katherine Anne Porter and moving to my own work, I discuss how some epiphanies, particularly false ones, can enhance rather than detract from excellent fiction. Five short stories make up the remainder of this thesis: "Dedication," "Taking it with You," "Transition to Flowers," "Profile in Courage," and "Henderson Street Bazaar."
This collection contains a preface that discusses the role of landscape and place as they are used in fiction, particularly when they are colored by the writer's own memories of home. The preface is followed by four original short stories, three of which relate to a fictional small town in Texas. "Under the Surface" involves two young boys who begin to relate thoughts of the dead body they find to their own absentee mother. "Tommy" explores a young man's memories of his recently deceased friend, as well as the gossip of a small town. "Stubborn" depicts a man's struggle after his wife has delivered an ultimatum. "Out of the Valley" is about a father and daughter questioning what it means to be normal.
The following is a critical preface and portion of a novel-in-progress produced during my master's program in creative writing at the University of North Texas. The preface analyzes the way time and point of view work together to create or determine structure in fiction, as well as provide added meaning. In order to explore these topics I focus on two novels, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and speak to how these elements have influenced my own writing style in The Hostess. The Hostess is a story about a group of twenty-something’s working together in a restaurant located in a Mid-West, college town, told from multiple character perspectives, as they struggle to choose between pursuing their passions and creating stability in their lives.
Cognitive poetics, the recently developed field of literary theory which utilizes principles from cognitive science and cognitive linguistics to examine literature, is applied in this study to an exploration of the poetry of William Butler Yeats. The theoretical foundation for this approach is embodiment theory, the concept from cognitive linguistics that language is an embodied phenomenon and that meaning and meaning construction are bodily processes grounded in our sensorimotor experiences. A systematic analysis including conceptual metaphors, image schemas, cognitive mappings, mental spaces, and cognitive grammar is applied here to selected poems of Yeats to discover how these models can inform our readings of these poems. Special attention is devoted to Yeats's interest in the mind's eye, his crafting of syntax in stanzaic development, his atemporalization through grammar, and the antinomies which converge in selected symbols from his poems.
The Inevitable: Withdrawn is a critical preface and collection of non-fiction writing: personal essay, lyric essay, fragments, and experimental forms. The work’s cohesive subject matter is the author’s European vacation directly following her divorce. Within the pieces, the author attempts to reconcile who she is when starting over and she begins to ask questions regarding the human condition: How do I learn to exhibit intimacy again, not just with romantic partners, but with also in a familial way with my father, and how does absence in these relationships affect my journey and how I write about it? How do I view, and remake myself, when finding my identity that was tied to another individual compromised? How does a body, both physical and belonging to me, and physical as text, take certain shapes to reflect my understanding? How do I define truth, and how do I interpret truth and authenticity in both experience and writing? How do I define and know the difference between belief and truth? And finally, how does narrative and language protect, or expose me? The Inevitable: Withdrawn considers debates regarding the definition of narrative in order to address a spectrum of non-fiction writing. The collection takes into consideration non-fiction conventions, form as functionality, philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology, prose and poetic theory, and the works of other notable writers.
This dissertation is has two parts: a critical essay on the lyric subject, and a collection of poems. In the essay, I suggest that, contrary to various anti-subjectivists who continue to define the lyric subject in Romantic terms, a strain of Post-Romantic lyric subjectivity allows us to think more in terms of space, process, and dialogue and less in terms of identity, (mere self-) expression, and dialectic. The view I propose understands the contemporary lyric subject as a confluence or parallax of imagined and felt subjectivities in which the subject who writes the poem, the subject personified as speaker in the text itself, and the subject who receives the poem as a reader are each repeatedly drawn out of themselves, into others, and into an otherness that calls one beyond identity, mastery, and understanding. Rather than arguing for the lyric subject as autonomous, expressive (if fictive) "I,” I have suggested that the lyric subject is a dialogical matrix of multiple subjectivities—actual, imagined, anticipated, deferred—that at once posit and emerge from a space whose only grounded, actual place in the world is the text: not the court, not the market, and not a canon of legitimized authors, but in the relatively fugitive realm of text. In this way, there is no real contradiction between what Tucker terms the intersubjective and the intertextual. The lyric space I am arguing for is ultimately a diachronic process in which readers take up the poem and bring that space partially into their bodies, imaginations, and consciousness even as the poem brings them out, or to the edge, of each of these.
This collection of memoir essays chronicles the author's 19 year struggle with chronic depression. "The Invisible Dragon" explores the onset of the disease and its cure. "The Silent Typewriter" looks at how it affected the author as a writer. "Roses for Trish" discusses how it affected his wife. "My Mother's Son" explores the possibility that he inherited depression from his mother. The final essay, "The Dragon Returns" probes the author's life in 2012 with the probability that he has a personality disorder. The preface examines several depression memoirs and explores the strategies used by William Styron, Elizabeth Wurtzel and Kay Redfield Jamison to prevent sliding into the pitfalls inherent in a linear structure. Among these are the use of alternative structures, language, characterization, focus and imagery.
The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate ontological relationality in literary theory and criticism by critically reflecting on modern theories of literature and by practically examining the literary texts of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde. Traditional studies of literary texts have been oriented toward interpretative or hermeneutic methodologies, focusing on an independent and individual subject in literature. Instead, I explore how relational ontology uncovers the interactive structures interposed between the author, the text, and the audience by examining the system of how the author's creative positioning provokes the reader's reaction through the text. In Chapter I, I critically inquire into modern literary theories of "irony" in Romanticism, New Criticism, and Deconstructionism to show how they tend to disregard the dynamic dimension of interactive relationships between different literary subjects. Chapter II scrutinizes Wilde's humor in An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) in order to reveal the ontological relationships triggered by a creative positioning. In chapter III, I examine Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400) and the laughter in "The Miller's Tale" in particular, to examine the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of its interactive relationships. In Chapter IV, I explore Much Ado About Nothing (1598-99), Othello (1603-4), and The Winter's Tale (1609-11) so as to show how artistic positioning creatively constructs a relational system of dynamic interactions to circulate social ideals and values. In so doing, this dissertation is aimed at revealing the aesthetic values of literature and the objective scope of literary discourse rather than providing yet another analytical paradigm dependent primarily on a single literary subject. Thus, the ontological study is proposed as an alternative, yet primary, dimension of literary criticism and theoretical practice.
Fourteen short stories, with five interspersed vignettes, describe the lives of gay people in the southwestern United States, centered around a fictional gay country-and-western bar in Dallas and a small town in Oklahoma. Various characters, themes, and trajectories recur in the manner of a short story cycle, as explained in the prefatory Critical Analysis, which focuses on exemplary works of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Italo Calvino, Yevgeny Kharitonov, and Louise Erdrich.
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 ...
My dissertation, Letters from Jack and Other Cadavers, developed out of my interest in using persona, narrative forms, and historical details collected through thorough research to transform personal experience and emotions in my poems. The central series of poems, "Letters from Jack," is written in the voice of Jack the Ripper and set up as a series of poems-as-letters to the police who chased him. The Ripper's sense of self and his motivations are troubled by his search for a muse as the poems become love poems, contrasting the brutality of the historical murders and the atmosphere of late 19th century London with a charismatic speaker not unlike those of Browning's Dramatic Monologues. The dissertation's preface further explores my desire for a level of personal removal while crafting poems in order to temper sentimentality. Drawing on Wallace Stevens's notion that "Sentimentality is failed emotion" and Tony Hoagland's assessment that fear of sentimentality can turn young poets away from narrative forms, I examine my own poems along with those of Scott Cairns, Tim Seibles, and Albert Goldbarth to derive conclusions on the benefits distance, persona, narrative, and detail to downplay excessive emotion and the intrusion of the personal. Poems from the manuscript have appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Sybil's Garage, The North Texas Review, and The Sheridan Edwards Review.
This creative nonfiction dissertation is a memoir of the author's search for the somewhat mysterious hidden past of her father, the lexicographer Charles J. Lovell, who died in 1960, when the author was nine. Her father's early death left the author with many unanswered questions about his past and his family and so she undertakes a search to answer, if possible, some of those questions. Her search takes her to Portland, Maine; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Pasadena, California, where she tries to discover the facts and uncover the forces that shaped her father's life. Along the way, she realizes how profoundly his death affected and shaped her own life, contributing to the theme of loss that pervades the memoir. In addition, she begins to realize how much her mother, Dixie Hefley Lovell, whose significance she previously overlooked, shaped her life. Ultimately, she comes to understand and accept that some of her questions are unanswerable.
This study explores the depictions of technology and scientists in the literature of five writers during the 1960s. Scientists and technology associated with nuclear, computer, and space science are examined, focusing on their respective treatments by the following writers: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. Despite the close connections between the abovementioned sciences, space science is largely spared from negative critiques during the sixties. Through an analysis of Barth's Giles Goat-boy, Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Asimov's short stories "Key Item," "The Last Question," "The Machine That Won the War," "My Son, the Physicist," and Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is argued that altruistic goals of space science during the 1960s protect it from the satirical treatments that surround the other sciences.
Love Poem with Exiles is a collection of poems with a critical preface. The poems are varied in terms of subject matter and form. In the critical preface, I discuss my relationship with poetry as well as the idea that we inherit poems, and that if we are inspired by them, we can transform them into something new.
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