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Dirty Jokes and Fairy Tales: David Mamet and the Narrative Capability of Film

Description: David Mamet is best known as a playwright, but he also has a thriving film career, both as screenwriter and as director. He has taken very seriously each of these roles, formulating theories that, he suggests, account for the creative choices he makes. Though Mamet sometimes contradicts himself, as when he suggests that viewers should have the satisfaction of constructing their own meaning of a work, but at the same time is devoted to montage, which works by juxtaposing images that lead to a single interpretation, he clearly sees the story as a critical avenue into the spectator's unconscious, where he hopes it will resonate with a truth that speaks directly to the individual. His films House of Games, Things Change, and Homicide clearly reflect his ideas on the best ways of conveying a story on film. In House of Games, Mamet draws on Bruno Bettelheim's theories to construct a fairy tale designed to act on adult viewers in the same way that fairy tales act on the child. In Things Change, he creates a fable that explores issues of friendship and honor within the milieu of the gangster genre. And in Homicide, Mamet uses the expectations viewers bring to the theatre in anticipation of a genre film to explore themes of loyalty and identity. In Oleanna, however, Mamet relies heavily on exposition and dialogue, rather than the visual elements that separate the film from drama, which renders the film the antithesis of his long-held philosophy of film narrative. Mamet's best film work, in House of Games and Homicide, has been innovative and thought-provoking, bringing depth to the new noir and redefining the cop film. His work in Oleanna, though it may prove to be an anomaly, may suggest a surrender of his principles of filmmaking or a reformulation of ...
Date: May 1997
Creator: Haspel, Jane Seay

The Disfigured Muse : Supreme Readers in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens

Description: In "Discourse in the Novel," Mikhail Bakhtin tells us that "Every discourse presupposes a special conception of the listener, of his apperceptive background and the degree of his responsiveness." My study of Wallace Stevens's poetry examines Stevens's "conception of the listener"—in the form of his intratextual readers, their responsiveness, and the shapes that responsiveness takes—and attempts to formulate out of that examination Stevens's theory of reading embodied in his canon of poems.
Date: August 1993
Creator: Hobbs, Michael B. (Michael Boyd)

"Distance" and Other Stories

Description: "Distance" and Other Stories is a collection of four short stories and a novella that explore the themes of isolation and personal revelation. The dissertation opens with a preface which describes my background as a writer and the forces that shape my work, including science fiction, technology and the internet, cultural marginalization, and Joseph Campbell's hero's motif.
Date: August 2004
Creator: Drummond-Mathews, Angela

Distorted Traditions: the Use of the Grotesque in the Short Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson Mccullers, Flannery O'connor, and Bobbie Ann Mason.

Description: This dissertation argues that the four writers named above use the grotesque to illustrate the increasingly peculiar consequences of the assault of modernity on traditional Southern culture. The basic conflict between the views of Bakhtin and Kayser provides the foundation for defining the grotesque herein, and Geoffrey Harpham's concept of "margins" helps to define interior and exterior areas for the discussion. Chapter 1 lays a foundation for why the South is different from other regions of America, emphasizing the influences of Anglo-Saxon culture and traditions brought to these shores by the English gentlemen who settled the earliest tidewater colonies as well as the later influx of Scots-Irish immigrants (the Celtic-Southern thesis) who settled the Piedmont and mountain regions. This chapter also notes that part of the South's peculiarity derives from the cultural conflicts inherent between these two groups. Chapters 2 through 5 analyze selected short fiction from each of these respective authors and offer readings that explain how the grotesque relates to the drastic social changes taking place over the half-century represented by these authors. Chapter 6 offers an evaluation of how and why such traditions might be preserved. The overall argument suggests that traditional Southern culture grows out of four foundations, i. e., devotion to one's community, devotion to one's family, devotion to God, and love of place. As increasing modernization and homogenization impact the South, these cultural foundations have been systematically replaced by unsatisfactory or confusing substitutes, thereby generating something arguably grotesque. Through this exchange, the grotesque has moved from the observably physical, as shown in the earlier works discussed, to something internalized that is ultimately depicted through a kind of intellectual if not physical stasis, as shown through the later works.
Date: August 2004
Creator: Marion, Carol A.v

The Dostoevskyan Dialectic in Selected North American Literary Works

Description: This study is an examination of the rhetorical concept of the dialectic as it is realized in selected works of North American dystopian literature. The dialectic is one of the main factors in curtailing enlightenment rationalism which, taken to an extreme, would deny man freedom while claiming to bestow freedom upon him. The focus of this dissertation is on an analysis of twentieth-century dystopias and the dialectic of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor parable which is a precursor to dystopian literature. The Grand Inquisitor parable of The Brothers Karamazov is a blueprint for dystopian states delineated in anti-utopian fiction. Also, Dostoevsky's parable constitutes a powerful dialectical struggle between polar opposites which are presented in the following twentieth-century dystopias: Zamiatin's Me, Bradbury's Farenheit 451, Vonnegut's Player Piano, and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The dialectic in the dystopian genre presents a give and take between the opposites of faith and doubt, liberty and slavery, and it often presents the individual of the anti-utopian state with a choice. When presented with the dialectic, then, the individual is presented with the capacity to make a real choice; therefore, he is presented with a hope for salvation in the totalitarian dystopias of modern twentieth-century literature.
Date: December 1995
Creator: Smith, James Gregory

Down and Out: a Novel

Description: A creative dissertation consisting of two parts: a novel and a critical preface. The critical preface, titled “Novel without Falsehood” deals directly with David Shields’s Reality Hunger, touching on issues of reality as it pertains to truth, writing, fiction, and contemporary culture. The novel is entitled Down and Out and follows the fortunes of a small town in Arkansas before, during, and after its sole source of employment ceases to exist.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Briseño, J. Andrew

East, West, Somewhere in the Middle

Description: A work of creative fiction in novella form, this dissertation follows the first-person travails of Mitch Zeller, a 26-year-old gay man who is faced with an unexpected choice. The dissertation opens with a preface which examines the form of the novella and the content of this particular work.
Date: December 1997
Creator: Behlen, Shawn Lee

Edmund Spenser as Protestant Thinker and Poet : A Study of Protestantism and Culture in The Faerie Queene

Description: The study inquires into the dynamic relationship between Protestantism and culture in The Faerie Oueene. The American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr makes penetrating analyses of the relationship between man's cultural potentials and the insights of Protestant Christianity which greatly illuminate how Spenser searches for a comprehensive religious, ethical, political, and social vision for the Christian community of Protestant England. But Spenser maintains the tension between culture and Christianity to the end, refusing to offer a merely coherent system of principles based on the doctrine of Christianity.
Date: August 1993
Creator: Kim, Hoyoung

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Quest for the Father

Description: This dissertation explores Elizabeth Barrett's dependency on the archetypal Victorian patriarch. Chapter I focuses on the psychological effects of this father-daughter relationship on Elizabeth Barrett. Chapter II addresses Barrett's acceptance of the conventional female role, which is suggested by the nature and the situation of the women she chooses to depict. These women are placed in situations where they can reveal their devotion to family, their capacity for passive endurance, and their wish to resist. Almost always, they choose death as an alternative to life where a powerful father figure is present. Chapter III concentrates on the highly sentimental images of women and children whom Barrett places in a divine order, where they exist untouched by the concerns of the social order of which they are a part. Chapter IV shows that the conventional ideologies of the time, society's commitment to the "angel in the house," and the small number of female role models before her increase her difficulty to find herself a place within this order. Chapter V discusses Aurora Leigh's mission to find herself an identity and to maintain the connection with her father or father substitute. Despite Elizabeth Barrett's desire to break away from her paternal ties and to establish herself as an independent woman and poet, her unconditional loyalty and love towards her father and her tremendous need for his affection, and the security he provides restrain her resistance and surface the child in her.
Date: December 1996
Creator: Yegenoglu, Dilara

Elizabeth Bishop in Brasil: An Ongoing Acculturation

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

The Elusive Mother in William Faulkner's Major Yoknapatawpha Families

Description: Families in much of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha fiction are built upon traditional patriarchal structure with the father as head and provider and the mother or mother figure in charge of keeping the home and raising the children. Even though the roles appear to be clearly defined and observed, the families decline and disintegrate.
Date: May 1995
Creator: Bunnell, Phyllis Ann

Ethics in Technical Communication: Historical Context for the Human Radiation Experiments

Description: To illustrate the intersection of ethical language and ethical frameworks within technical communication, this dissertation analyzes the history and documentation of the human radiation experiments of the 1940s through the 1970s. Research propositions included clarifying the link between medical documentation and technical communication by reviewing the literature that links the two disciplines from the ancient period to the present; establishing an appropriate historiography for the human radiation experiments by providing a context of the military, political, medical, and rhetorical milieu of the 1940s to the 1970s; closely examining and analyzing actual human radiation experiment documentation, including proposals, letters, memos, and consent forms, looking for established rhetorical constructions that indicate a document adheres to or diverts from specific ethical frameworks; and suggesting the importance of the human radiation documents for studying ethics in technical communication. Close rhetorical analysis of the documents included with this project reveals consistent patterns of metadiscourse, passive and nominal writing styles, and other rhetorical constructions, including negative language, redundancies, hedges, and intensifiers, that could lead a reader to misunderstand the writer's original ethical purpose. Ultimately this project finds that technical communicators cannot classify language itself as ethical or unethical; the language is simply the framework with which the experimenters construct their arguments and communicate their work. Technical communicators can, however, consider the ethical nature of behavior according to specific ethical frameworks and determine whether language contributes to the behavior.
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Date: August 2005
Creator: Audrain, Susan Connor

The Evolution of AIDS as Subject Matter in Select American Dramas

Description: Dramatic works from America with AIDS as subject matter have evolved over the past twenty years. In the early 1980s, dramas like Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, William Hoffman's As Is, and Robert Chesley's Night Sweat educated primarily homosexual men about AIDS, its causes, and its effects on the gay community while combating the dominant discourse promoted by the media, government, and medical establishments that AIDS was either unimportant because it affected primarily the homosexual population or because it was attributed to lack of personal responsibility. By the mid-eighties and early nineties, playwrights Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!)and Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey)concentrated on relationships between sero-discordant homosexual couples. McNally's "Andre's Mother" and Lips Together, Teeth Apart explored how families and friends face the loss of a loved one to AIDS. Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America epic represents living beyond AIDS as a powerful force. Without change and progress, Angels warns, life stagnates. Angels also introduces the powerful drugs that help alleviate the symptoms of AIDS. AIDS is the centerpiece of the epic, and AIDS and homosexuality are inextricably blended in the play. Rent, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by Jonathan Larson, features characters from an assortment of ethnic and social backgrounds - including heterosexuals, homosexuals, bi-sexuals, some with AIDS, some AIDS-free, some drug users - all living through the diverse troubles visited upon them at the turn of the millennium in the East Village of New York City. AIDS is not treated as "special," nor are people with AIDS pandered to. Instead, the characters take what life gives them, and they live fully, because there is "no day but today" ("Finale"). Rent's audiences are as varied as the American population, because it portrays metaphorically what so many Americans face daily - not AIDS per se, but other difficult life problems, ...
Date: August 2000
Creator: Sorrells, David J.

The Evolution of Survival as Theme in Contemporary Native American Literature: from Alienation to Laughter

Description: With the publication of his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn. N. Scott Momaday ended a three-decade hiatus in the production of works written by Native American writers, and contributed to the renaissance of a rich literature. The critical acclaim that the novel received helped to establish Native American literature as a legitimate addition to American literature at large and inspired other Native Americans to write. Contemporary Native American literature from 1969 to 1974 focuses on the themes of the alienated mixed-blood protagonist and his struggle to survive, and the progressive return to a forgotten or rejected Indian identity. For example, works such as Leslie Silko's Ceremony and James Welch's Winter in the Blood illustrate this dual focal point. As a result, scholarly attention on these works has focused on the theme of struggle to the extent that Native American literature can be perceived as necessarily presenting victimized characters. Yet, Native American literature is essentially a literature of survival and continuance, and not a literature of defeat. New writers such as Louise Erdrich, Hanay Geiogamah, and Simon Ortiz write to celebrate their Indian heritage and the survival of their people, even though they still use the themes of alienation and struggle. The difference lies in what they consider to be the key to survival: humor. These writers posit that in order to survive, Native Americans must learn to laugh at themselves and at their fate, as well as at those who have victimized them through centuries of oppression. Thus, humor becomes a coping mechanism that empowers Native Americans and brings them from survival to continuance.
Date: December 1994
Creator: Schein, Marie-Madeleine

Fanny Fern: A Social Critic in Nineteenth-Century America

Description: This dissertation explores Fanny Fern's literary position and her role as a social critic of American lives and attitudes in the nineteenth-century. A reexamination of Fern's literary and non-literary works sheds light on her firm stand for the betterment of all mankind. The diversity and multiplicity of Fern's social criticism and her social reform attitudes, evident in Ruth Hall. Rose Clark, and in voluminous newspaper articles, not only prove her concern for society's well-being, but also reflect her development of and commitment to her writing career.
Date: August 1995
Creator: Tongra-ar, Rapin

Female Inheritors of Hawthorne's New England Literary Tradition

Description: Nineteenth-century women were a mainstay in the New England literary tradition, both as readers and authors. Indeed, women were a large part of a growing reading public, a public that distanced itself from Puritanism and developed an appetite for novels and magazine short stories. It was a culture that survived in spite of patriarchal domination of the female in social and literary status. This dissertation is a study of selected works from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman that show their fiction as a protest against a patriarchal society. The premise of this study is based on analyzing these works from a protest (not necessarily a feminist) view, which leads to these conclusions: rejection of the male suitor and of marriage was a protest against patriarchal institutions that purposely restricted females from realizing their potential. Furthermore, it is often the case that industrialism and abuses of male authority in selected works by Jewett and Freeman are symbols of male-driven forces that oppose the autonomy of the female. Thus my argument is that protest fiction of the nineteenth century quietly promulgates an agenda of independence for the female. It is an agenda that encourages the woman to operate beyond standard stereotypes furthered by patriarchal attitudes. I assert that Jewett and Freeman are, in fact, inheritors of Hawthorne's literary tradition, which spawned the first fully-developed, independent American heroine: Hester Prynne.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Adams, Dana W. (Dana Wills)

The Feminine Ancestral Footsteps: Symbolic Language Between Women in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables

Description: This study examines Hawthorne's use of symbols, particularly flowers, in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Romantic ideals stressed the full development of the self¬reliant individual, and romantic writers such as Hawthorne believed the individual would fully develop not only spiritually, but also intellectually by taking instruction from the natural world. Hawthorne's heroines reach their full potential as independent women in two steps: they first work together to defeat powerful patriarchies, and they then learn to read natural symbols to cultivate their artistic sensibilities which lead them to a full development of their intellect and spirituality. The focus of this study is Hawthorne's narrative strategy; how the author uses symbols as a language his heroines use to communicate from one generation to the next. In The Scarlet Letter, for instance, the symbol of a rose connects three generations of feminine reformers, Ann Hutchinson, Hester Prynne, and Pearl. By the end of the novel, Pearl interprets a rose as a symbol of her maternal line, which links her back to Ann Hutchinson. Similarly in The House of the Seven Gables Alice, Hepzibah, and Phoebe Pyncheon are part of a family line of women who work together to overthrow the Pyncheon patriarchy. The youngest heroine, Phoebe, comes to an understanding of her great, great aunt Alice's message from the posies her feminine ancestor plants in the Pyncheon garden. Through Phoebe's interpretation of the flowers, she deciphers how the cultivation of a sense of artistic appreciation is essential to the progress of American culture.
Date: December 2006
Creator: Serrano, Gabriela

The Fictional World of Rolando Hinojosa

Description: Rolando Hinojosa's Klail Citv Death Trip Series purports to give a picture of life in the Texas Rio Grande Valley from roughly the 1930s to the present. Much of Hinojosa's attention is directed toward the tensions that characterize relations between the mexicano and Anglo cultures. Hinojosa's novel sequence in large part documents the ever-increasing acculturation and assimilation of the mexicano into Anglo society.
Date: August 1993
Creator: Lee, Joyce Glover

Fictionalized Indian English Speech and the Representations of Ideology in Indian Novels in English

Description: I investigate the spoken dialogue of four Indian novels in English: Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935), Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan (1956), Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan's The World of Nagaraj (1990), and Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters (2002). Roger Fowler has said that literature, as a form of discourse, articulates ideology; it is through linguistic criticism (combination of literary criticism and linguistic analyses) that the ideologies in a literary text are uncovered. Shobhana Chelliah in her study of Indian novels in English concludes that the authors use Indian English (IndE) as a device to characterize buffoons and villains. Drawing upon Fowler's and Chelliah's framework, my investigation employs linguistic criticism of the four novels to expose the ideologies reflected in the use of fictionalized English in the Indian context. A quantitative inquiry based on thirty-five IndE features reveals that the authors appropriate these features, either to a greater or lesser degree, to almost all their characters, suggesting that IndE functions as the mainstream variety in these novels and creating an illusion that the authors are merely representing the characters' unique Indian worldviews. But within this dialect range, the appropriation of higher percentages of IndE features to specific characters or groups of characters reveal the authors' manipulation of IndE as a counter-realist and ideological device to portray deviant and defective characters. This subordinating of IndE as a substandard variety of English functions as the dominant ideology in my investigation of the four novels. Nevertheless, I also uncover the appropriation of a higher percentage of IndE features to foreground the masculinity of specific characters and to heighten the quintessentially traditional values of the older Brahmin generation, which justifies a contesting ideology about IndE that elevates it as the prestigious variety, not an aberration. Using an approach which combines literary criticism with linguistic analysis, I map ...
Date: August 2009
Creator: Muthiah, Kalaivahni

The Fifth Humor: Ink, Texts, and the Early Modern Body

Description: 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 ...
Date: December 2012
Creator: Polster, Kristen Kayem

"For the Ruined Body"

Description: 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.
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Date: May 2016
Creator: Dorris, Kara Delene

Friendship, Politics, and the Literary Imagination: the Impact of Franklin Pierce on Hawthorne's Works

Description: This dissertation attempts to demonstrate how Nathaniel Hawthorne's lifelong friendship with Franklin Pierce influenced the author's literary imagination, often prompting him to transform Pierce from his historical personage into a romanticized figure of notably Jacksonian qualities. It is also an assessment of how Hawthorne's friendship with Pierce profoundly influenced a wide range of his work, from his first novel, Fanshawe (1828), to the Life of Franklin Pierce (1852) and such later works as the unfinished Septimius romances and the dedicatory materials in Our Old Home (1863). This dissertation shows how Pierce became for Hawthorne a literary device—an icon of Jacksonian virtue, a token of the Democratic party, and an emblem of steadfastness, military heroism, and integrity, all three of which were often at odds with Pierce's historical character. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the Hawthorne-Pierce friendship. The chapter also assesses biographical reconstructions of Pierce's character and life. Chapter 2 addresses Hawthorne's years at Bowdoin College, his introduction to Pierce, and his early socialization. Chapter 3 demonstrates how Hawthorne transformed his Bowdoin experience into formulaic Gothic narrative in his first novel, Fanshawe. Chapter 4 discusses the influence of the Hawthorne-Pierce friendship on the Life of Franklin Pierce, Hawthorne's campaign biography of his friend. The friendship, the chapter concludes, was not only a context, or backdrop to the work, but it was also a factor that affected the text significantly. Chapter 5 treats the influence of Hawthorne's camaraderie with Pierce on the author's later works, the Septimius romances and the dedicatory materials in Our Old Home. Chapter 6 illustrates how Hawthorne's continuing friendship with the controversial Pierce distanced him from many of the prominent and influential thinkers and writers of the day, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. Chapter 7 offers a final summation of the influence of Pierce ...
Date: August 1996
Creator: Williamson, Richard Joseph, 1962-

Gender and Desire in Thomas Lovell Beddoes' The Brides' Tragedy and Death's Jest-Book

Description: Thomas Lovell Beddoes' female dramatic characters are, for the most part, objectified and static, but these passive women perform a crucial narrative and thematic function in the plays. Alongside the destructive activity of the male characters, they dramatize masculine-feminine unions as idealized and contrived and, thus, unstable. Desire, power and influence, as well as the constrictive aspects of physicality, all become gendered concepts in Beddoes' plays, and socially normative relationships between men and women, including heterosexual courtship and marriage, are scrutinized and found wanting. In The Brides' Tragedy, Floribel and Olivia, the eponymous brides, represent archetypes of innocence, purity, and Romantic nature. Their bridegroom, Hesperus, embodies Romantic masculinity, desiring the feminine and aspiring to androgyny, but ultimately unable to relinquish masculine power. The consequences of Hesperus' attempts to unite with the feminine other are the destruction of that other and of himself, with no hope for the spiritual union in death that the Romantic Hesperus espouses as his ultimate desire. Death's Jest-Book expands upon the theme of male-female incompatibility, presenting heterosexual relationships in the context of triangulated desire. The erotic triangles created by Melveric, Sibylla, and Wolfram and Athulf, Amala, and Adalmar are inherently unstable, because they depend upon the rivalries between the males. Once those rivalries end, with the deaths of Wolfram and Athulf, respectively, Sibylla and Amala fade into nothing, their function as conduits for male homosocial relations at an end. In effect, these failed heterosexual triangles function as a backdrop for the idealized relationship between Melveric and Wolfram, whose desire for each other is mediated through their common pursuit of Sibylla, as well as through their blood-brotherhood. Once Wolfram's physical masculinity is deferred through death, the mixing of his ashes with those of Melveric's dead wife, and reanimation, Melveric and Wolfram descend into the tomb together, united ...
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Date: May 2002
Creator: Rees, Shelley S.