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The Aesthetics of Sin: Beauty and Depravity in Early Modern English Literature

Description: 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.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Jeffrey, Anthony Cole

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

Description: This literary/historical novel details the life of African-American Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves between the years 1838-1862 and 1883-1884. One plotline depicts Reeves’s youth as a slave, including his service as a body servant to a Confederate cavalry officer during the Civil War. Another plotline depicts him years later, after Emancipation, at the height of his deputy career, when he has become the most feared, most successful lawman in Indian Territory, the largest federal jurisdiction in American history and the most dangerous part of the Old West. A preface explores the uniqueness of this project’s historical relevance and literary positioning as a neo-slave narrative, and addresses a few liberties that I take with the historical record.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Thompson, Sidney, 1965-

Constructing Taiwan: Taiwanese Literature and National Identity

Description: In this work, I trace and reconstruct Taiwan's nation-formation as it is reflected in literary texts produced primarily during the country's two periods of colonial rule, Japanese (1895-1945) and Kuomintang or Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) (1945-1987). One of my central arguments is that the idea of a Taiwanese nation has historically emerged from the interstices of several official and formal nationalisms: Japanese, Chinese, and later Taiwanese. In the following chapters, I argue that the concepts of Taiwan and Taiwanese have been formed and enriched over time in response to the pressures exerted by the state's, colonial or otherwise, pedagogical nation-building discourses. It is through an engagement with these various discourses that the idea of a Taiwanese nation has come to be gradually defined, negotiated, and reinvented by Taiwanese intellectuals of various ethnic backgrounds. I, therefore, focus on authors whose works actively respond to and engage with the state's official nationalism. Following Homi Bhabha's explication in his famous essay "DissemiNation," the basic premise of this dissertation is that the nation, as a narrated space, is not simply shaped by the homogenizing and historicist discourse of nationalism but is realized through people's diverse lived experience. Thus, in reading Taiwanese literature, it is my intention to locate the scraps, patches, and rags of daily life represented in a select number of texts that signal the repeating and reproductive energy of a national life and culture.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Lu, Tsung Che

Corporeal Judgment in Shakespeare's Plays

Description: 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 ...
Date: December 2017
Creator: Cephus, Heidi Nicole

Derivation: Excerpts From a Novel

Description: The dissertation consists of a critical preface and excerpts from the novel Derivation. The preface details how the novel Derivation explores the tension between the artist and the academy in the university, as well as the role memory plays in the construction of fictional narratives. The preface also details how narrative voice is used to expand the scope of Derivation, and ends with a discussion of masculine tropes in the novel. Derivation traces the path of a woman trying to rebuild her life in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, returning first to her blue collar roots before pursuing a career as an academic.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Davis, Matthew

"The Divine Coming of the Light"

Description: The Divine Coming of the Light is a memoir-in-essays that covers an experience, from 2007 to 2010, when I lived in Kosuge Village (population 900), nestled in the mountains of central Japan. I was the only foreigner there. My memoir uses these three years as a frame to investigate how landscape affects identity. The book profiles who I was before Japan (an evangelical and then wilderness guide), why I became obsessed with mountains, and the fall-out from mountain obsession to a humanistic outlook. The path my narrator takes is one of a mountain hike. I was born in tabletop-flat West Texas to conservative, Christian parents in the second most Republican county by votes in America. At 19, I made my first backpacking trip to the San Juan Mountains of western Colorado and was awed by their outer-planetary-like massiveness. However, two friends and I became lost in the wilderness for three days without cell phones. During this time, an obsession possessed me as we found our way back through the peaks to safety, a realization that I could die out there, yes, but amid previously unknown splendor. I developed an addiction to mountains that weakened my religious faith. Like the Romantic poets before me, God transferred from the sky to the immense landscape. I jettisoned my beliefs and became an outdoor wilderness instructor. On every peak I traveled up, I hoped to recreate that first conversion experience when I was lost in the woods. After college, while teaching English in Kosuge Village, I learned about the mountain-worshipping religion Shugendo: a mixture of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Shamanism. I climbed dozens of peaks, spending several days backpacking. However, while in Japan, I was nearly fatally injured on a solo, month-long hike. I saw the accident as a warning and turned my attention to ...
Date: May 2018
Creator: Peters, Clinton Crockett

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.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Neely, Elizabeth

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

"Goodness and Mercy": Stories

Description: 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.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Craggett, Courtney L

"The Hoboken War Bride": A Novel

Description: The Hoboken War Bride is a work of historical fiction set in Hoboken, New Jersey during World War II. A young soldier named Daniel and an aspiring actress named Hildy marry days after meeting, though the marriage is doomed to fail. This young couple is not compatible. Daniel ships out to basic training the day after their hasty marriage, leaving Hildy behind with his family, the Anellos, who she quickly becomes attached to. Hildy is exposed to family in a way she had never lived with her own, embracing them even though she doubts she'll ever have a future with Daniel. When Daniel returns after the end of the war, the young couple try to make their marriage work, but it fails almost immediately. Both Hildy and Daniel struggle to pick themselves up after their divorce, finding themselves making choices they never thought they would when they were younger.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Riccardelli, Charlie Frank

The Hybrid Hero in Early Modern English Literature: A Synthesis of Classical and Contemplative Heroism

Description: 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, ...
Date: December 2017
Creator: Ponce, Timothy Matthew

Inter

Description: 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.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Haines, Robert M.

Irony, Humor, and Ontological Relationality in Literature

Description: 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.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Kim, Soon Bae

"Let It Run"

Description: Let It Run is the story of Oakley Isom, a neurotic, disturbed young woman stuck in a small town of two thousand people where she lives with her father, Waldemyre, a fly-fishing guide. Oakley works at the local newspaper as the editor of the "What's Biting?" section, something the fishermen live by. Oakley also works nights at a therapeutic boarding school for troubled youth. Entrenched in a world of self-loathing and obsessive thoughts, Oakley spends her time dreaming of a way out of Victor, Idaho. When a murder in the small town pulls Oakley into its eddy, she attempts to escape into her own compulsive thoughts, and the friendship of a striking young therapist at the boarding school. Unusual events continue to unfold, reeling Oakley in, and she must face a reality far more disturbing than a killer on the loose. Cosmic bottom line, the dissertation novel is about the issues of human identity, and if memory is fixed or dynamic, unified or multiple—and how readers deal with loss, guilt, and regret.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Hyde, Spencer

Misrecognized and Misplaced: Race Performed in African American Literature, 1900-2015

Description: 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.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Taylor Juko, Tana

"Momentarium"

Description: "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.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Zuehlke, Karl

Patrol: Excerpts From a Novel

Description: 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.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Stringer, Hillary

Practical Astronomy

Description: 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.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Woodard, Chelsea S.

Reading the Ruptured Word: Detecting Trauma in Gothic Fiction from 1764-1853

Description: 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.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Laredo, Jeanette A

Recklessness and Light

Description: 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.
Date: August 2014
Creator: McCord, Kyle, 1984-

Set for Life: a Novel

Description: This collection of six chapters is an excerpt from a novel based on the book of Job, as told through the viewpoint of a contemporary woman from Texas. A preface exploring the act of starting over, fictionally and creatively, precedes the chapters.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Coleman, Britta

(Some More) American Literature

Description: This short story collection consists of twenty short fictions and a novella. A preface precedes the collection addressing issues of craft, pedagogy, and the post Program Era literary landscape, with particular attention paid to the need for empathy as an active guiding principle in the writing of fiction.
Date: May 2015
Creator: VandeZande, Zach