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 dissertation argues that early modern writers such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, George Herbert, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell played a critical role in the transition from the Neoplatonic philosophy of beauty to Enlightenment aesthetics. I demonstrate how the Protestant Reformation, with its special emphasis on the depravity of human nature, prompted writers to critique models of aesthetic judgment and experience that depended on high faith in human goodness and rationality. These writers in turn used their literary works to popularize skepticism about the human mind's ability to perceive and appreciate beauty accurately. In doing so, early modern writers helped create an intellectual culture in which aesthetics would emerge as a distinct branch of philosophy.
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, struggling to understand the rifts in her family and how they have shaped her own identity. She reads a book sent to her by her father, which turns out to be his story of growing up in the years following World War II. The book was intercepted and emended by her grandfather, who inserts his own commentary throughout, complicating her father’s hopes of reconciliation. The novel moves between two main narratives, one set primarily in 1951 and the other in the days and weeks immediately prior to September 11, 2001.
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.
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 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 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 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 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 ...
In this dissertation, I examine the complex role that the body played in early modern constructions of judgment. Moving away from an overreliance on anti-theatrical texts as the authority on the body in Shakespeare's plays, my project intervenes in the field Shakespearean studies by widening the lens through which scholars view the body's role in the early modern theater. Through readings of four plays—Richard II, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale—I demonstrate that Shakespeare uses a wide range of ideas about the human body from religious, philosophical, medical, and cultural spheres of thought to challenge Puritan accusations that the public theater audience is incapable of rational judgment. The first chapter outlines the parameters of the project. In Chapter 2, I argue that Richard II draws parallels between the theatrical community and the community created through the sacramental experiences of baptism and communion to show that bodies play a crucial role in establishing common experience and providing an avenue for judgment. In Chapter 3, I argue that Shakespeare establishes correspondences between bodily and social collaboration to show how both are needed for the memory-making project of the theater. In the next chapter, I show how Shakespeare appropriates what early moderns perceived of as the natural vulnerability in English bodies to suggest the passionate responses associated with impressionability can actually be sources of productive judgment and self-edification. I argue the storm models this passionate judgment, providing a guide for audience behavior. In Chapter 5, I argue that the memories created by and within the women in The Winter's Tale evoke the tradition of housewifery and emphasize the female role in preservation. Female characters stand in for hidden female contributors to the theater and expose societal blindness to women's work. Through each of these chapters, I argue that Shakespeare's plays emphasize the ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In his Book of the Courtier, Castiglione appeals to the Renaissance notion of self-fashioning, the idea that individuals could shape their identity rather than relying solely on the influence of external factors such as birth, social class, or fate. While other early modern authors explore the practice of self-fashioning—Niccolò Machiavelli, for example, surveys numerous princes identifying ways they have molded themselves—Castiglione emphasizes the necessity of modeling one's-self after a variety of sources, "[taking] various qualities now from one man and now from another." In this way, Castiglione advocates for a self-fashioning grounded in a discriminating kind of synthesis, the generation of a new ideal form through the selective combination of various source materials. While Castiglione focuses on the moves necessary for an individual to fashion himself through this act of discriminatory mimesis, his views can explain the ways authors of the period use source material in the process of textual production. As poets and playwrights fashioned their texts, they did so by consciously combining various source materials in order to create not individuals, as Castiglione suggests, but characters to represent new cultural ideals and values. Early moderns viewed the process of textual, as well as cultural production, as a kind of synthesis. Creation through textual fusion is particularly common in early modern accounts of the heroic, in which authors synthesize classical conceptions of the hero, which privilege the completion of martial feats, and Christian notions of the heroic, based on the contemplative nature of Christ. In this dissertation, I demonstrate how Thomas Kyd in The Spanish Tragedy (1585), Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene (1590), William Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus (1594), and John Milton in A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle (1632) syncretized classical and Christian notions of the heroic ideal in order to comment upon and shape political, social, ...
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.
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.
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 a first or second book of poetry. The poems look to sources like 17th and 18th century scientific letters, modern and contemporary art, and recent studies in biological phenomena in order to parse the intersection between personal experience and the outside world. The title of the collection points to the conceptual interests of the book: through the lens of scientific phenomena, memory, and personal history, one begins to see that what seems very small (the ant under a microscope, a Russian nesting doll, two people on horseback) are, in fact, individual offerings that articulate one’s place in the cosmos. The ...
Critical work on popular American women's fiction still has not reckoned adequately with the themes of interracialism present in these novels and with interracialism's bearing on the sentimental. This thesis considers an often overlooked body of women's popular sentimental fiction, published from 1860-1865, which is interested in themes of interracial romance or reproduction, in order to provide a fuller picture of the impact that the intersection of interracialism and sentimentalism has had on American identity. By examining the literary strategy of "miscegenated narration," or the heteroglossic cacophony of narrative voices and ideological viewpoints that interracialism produces in a narrative, I argue that the hegemonic ideologies of the sentimental romance are both "deterritorialized" and "reterritorialized," a conflicted impulse that characterizes both nineteenth-century sentimental, interracial romances and the broader project of critiquing the dominant national narrative that these novels undertake.
In my dissertation, I explore the ways in which racial identity is made complex through various onlookers' misrecognition of race. This issue is particularly important considering the current state of race relations in the United States, as my project offers a literary perspective and account of the way black authors have discussed racial identity formation from the turn of the century through the start of the twenty-first century. I highlight many variations of misrecognition and racial performance as a response to America's obsession with race.
"Momentarium" is a collection of poems that examines the instability of moments. By engaging with photography, the poems examine the strengths and flaws in representation. Qualified accuracy, in other words representations that exact no absolute authenticity, are paradoxically, most accurate. The original poems attempt to express both empathy an end to empathy, "I mean to give you what you cannot keep: a blue twice as true" and "I mean to give you what I cannot." The competing forces animate a contingent moment, before it becomes the past.
Richard Rodriguez's works create troubling situations for many scholars. Though numerous critics see him as the penultimate Chicano writer, many others see his writing as only pandering to the elite. However, all politics and controversies aside, he is a writer whose ideas upon language and public confession have been revolutionary. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Rodriguez's ideas upon language and identity are applicable to the social media landscape that we reside in currently, especially the public confession. Also, I use deconstructionism, along with postmodern criticism, to illustrate the changing arc of Rodriguez's confession from his first autobiography to his final one. In his first memoir, Rodriguez remains in the closet upon his sexuality, and the reader only catches glimpses of the 'real' character inside his work. In the second memoir, the reader sees a better glimpse because of his coming out; yet, even in this regard, he does not do so wholly and still leaves his confession unfinished. By the third, he applies themes and problems seen in his first and second works to discuss our browning nature, and how we are all sinners and that we desire to confess our sins. In my assessment of Rodriguez, I argue throughout all my chapters upon a measure of irreconcilability between the private world of the Hispanic immigrant family and the public sphere that they are forced to inhabit because of his citizenship and education. This irreconcilability creates a drastic limiting of identity for the author that Rodriguez is forced to navigate which creates his desire for confession.
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.
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 One (1608) examines how those heavily in debt dealt with both the social and legal consequences of defaulting on loans.
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 spiritual and physical self when seeking to avoid his inevitable death. Exploring a further dimension of the search for self, Chapter IV traces the legacy of stereotyped notions of identity, considering ways in which Roth subverts stereotypes in the Human Stain. the search for identity and its particular truths remains a focus of Chapter V, which explores Roth's creation of an unstable reality through the Counterlife, the Facts, Operation Shylock, and the Human Stain, suggesting that the literary imagination matters more than truth in fiction. in its attention to Roth's focus on identity, race, and narrative technique, this dissertation contributes ...
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, in particular écriture féminine, which models a method for recovery of self in language that would seek to efface it. In order to expose the boundaries of the contemporary meditative mode, and to outline its relationship to écriture féminine, this essay analyzes meditative poems from four contemporary poets: Kay Ryan, Jorie Graham, Linda Gregerson, and Linda Bierds, and contrasts contemporary variations on the genre with earlier traditions, identifying an evolved form that better reflects a postmodern rhetoric.
This dissertation consists of a literary novel. A preface deals with issue of introducing philosophical ideas into fictional works, with special emphasis on the techniques of ambiguity and destabilization of reality, as deployed in the novel.
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 ways: first, as a unique individual with differentiated abilities, exceptionalities, and personality; second, as a person with distinct value, regardless of skin color, cultural difference, or gender; and third, as a sanctified and redeemed Christian, guaranteed agency and inheritance through the family of God. Furthermore, the use of religion and spirituality allows these authors the opportunity to function as active agents who were adapting specific verbal and physical methods of self-fashioning through particular literary strategies. Doing so demonstrates that they were not the unrefined and unfeeling individuals that early American political and social restrictions had made them--that instead they were ...
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 factors between Palestinians revealed in my analysis. Furthermore, this project presents an argument that developing a Palestinian exceptionalism as both a response and a solution to the problems Palestine faced in the 20th century has already occurred among diasporic Palestinians as well as those settled in the West Bank. In addition, a significant finding of this dissertation is the generation clash in regarding to the methods of modernization of the West Bank society between the settled Palestinian and those returning from diaspora. Nevertheless, a Palestinian homecoming will require a renegotiation of Palestinian identities in which generation gaps and other disagreements ...
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.
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 depicts the outcome of these explorations, culminating in a series of choices for Tim and Sarah that showcase the fundamental change in each character. Unable to simply quantify themselves and those around them, Tim and Sarah instead adopt a more nuanced view of the world that seeks to find a balance between the individualistic conceit of the Romantic genius and the quantifying mandates of technology.
This dissertation is a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface considers Anthony’s Hecht’s long poem, “The Venetian Vespers,” and the ways in which the temporally unsettled situation of the poem’s speaker parallels a problem facing narrative-meditative poets. The preface is divided into two main sections that explore divisions of this larger conflict. The first discusses the origins and effects of the speaker’s uprootedness in time, and the ways in which he tries to both combat and embrace this dislocation by temporarily losing himself in the immediacy of observing visual art. In this section I connect the dilemma of the speaker, who wishes to escape his memory by focusing outwards, to the dilemma of a representational poet who, despite his position towards the past, must necessarily confront or recollect memories and emotions in order to create authentic descriptions or characters. The second section focuses on the production and appreciation of artistic works (both visual and literary) and how the meaning, production and appreciation of beauty are inseparable from its existence within the physical limits of time. Here I discuss the significance of Hecht’s character who is surrounded with beauty yet describes himself as a person who only observes and does not create anything. Through this character, I argue that Hecht reveals a fundamental conflict that exists between artistic creation and chronological time, and that his poem embodies a particular and paradoxical view of beauty that resonates deeply with the motivations and struggles of writing poems.
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.
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 of its usual context inside the eighteenth-century novel, there are themes that are apparent in the narrative which have gone unexamined because of the way it has been classified inside academia, and that postmodernist theory allows for these themes to be re-examined in the postmodern culture in which we now reside.
Using trauma theory, I analyze the disjointed narrative structure of gothic works from 1764-1853 as symptomatic of the traumatic experience. Gothic novels contain multiple structural anomalies, including gaps in experience that indicate psychological wounding, use of the supernatural to violate rational thought, and the inability of witnesses to testify to the traumatic event. These structural abnormalities are the result of trauma that characters within these texts then seek to prevent or repair via detection.
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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