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Poor Things: Objects, Ownership, and the Underclasses in American Literature, 1868-1935

Description: This dissertation explores both the production of underclass literature and the vibrancy of material between 1868-1935. During an era of rampant materialism, consumer capitalism, unchecked industrialism, and economic inequality in the United States, poor, working class Americans confronted their socioeconomic status by abandoning the linear framework of capitalism that draws only a straight line between market and consumer, and engaging in a more intimate relationship with local, material things – found, won, or inherited – that offered a sense of autonomy, belonging, and success. The physical seizure of property/power facilitated both men and women with the ability to recognize their own empowerment (both as individuals and as a community) and ultimately resist their marginalization by leveling access to opportunity and acquiring or creating personal assets that could be generationally transferred as affirmation of their family's power and control over circumstance. Reading into these personal possessions helps us understand the physical and psychological conflicts present amongst the underclasses as represented in American literature, and these conflicts give rise to new dynamics of belonging as invested in the transformative experience of ownership and exchange. If we can understand these discarded, poor, and foreign things and people as possessing dynamic and vibrant agency, then we will change the ethics of objectifying and ostracizing discarded, poor, and foreign humans, then and now.
Date: May 2019
Creator: Johnson, Meghan Taylor

"Given That the Body Was Made"

Description: A collection of poems that explores notions of disability, family, and belief, with a preface that meditates on questions related to the ethical ramifications of various approaches to the making of poetry and art that takes up the suffering of others as subject matter.
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Date: May 2019
Creator: Burke, Conor William

"Brazos"

Description: Brazos is a collection of poetry that comments on and critiques life in a small town in Texas. These poems situate the speaker both in this town and in spaces removed from the town, but the work always grapples with questions of how the speaker identifies himself via the relationship to that space. The creative portion is accompanied by a critical introduction that looks at the intersections of poetry and the lyric essay.
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Date: May 2019
Creator: Carter, Justin

"A Very Fine Piece of Writing": Parnell and the Joycean Text, 1905-1922

Description: Charles Stewart Parnell was James Joyce's most significant political influence to a degree that has yet to be fully acknowledged or explored. This thesis proposes a "theory of Parnell" in Joyce's works up to the end of Ulysses, arguing that close attention to Parnell's evolution points to a significant shift in the evolution of Joyce's literary forms. In Joyce's juvenilia, political writings, and early fiction, Parnell always appears with a heroic, even Messianic, cast, which the most significant moments in the fiction pair with a strict adherence to dramatic forms. However, significant moments in both "Ivy Day in the Committee Room" and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man lay the groundwork for stylistic and representative transformations in Ulysses. In that novel, the myth of Parnell is deflated, even as Joyce appropriates its most essential qualities in the development of his panoply of styles. Episodes from "Telemachus" to "Wandering Rocks" critically examine the myth of Parnell even as they link it with the constraints of dramatic forms. Later episodes, most notably "Cyclops," "Circe," and "Eumaeus" attempt to make use of elements of "Parnellite" style, training a community of readers in acts of collective imagination that keep the Parnellite spirit alive by moving away from a strict focus on his historical specificity.
Date: May 2019
Creator: Smith, Benjamin J

Lollardy and Eschatology: English Literature c. 1380-1430

Description: In this dissertation, I examine the various ways in which medieval authors used the term "lollard" to mean something other than "Wycliffite." In the case of William Langland's Piers Plowman, I trace the usage of the lollard-trope through the C-text and link it to Langland's dependence on the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Regarding Chaucer's Parson's Tale, I establish the orthodoxy of the tale's speaker by comparing his tale to contemporaneous texts of varying orthodoxy, and I link the Parson's being referred to as a "lollard" to the eschatological message of his tale. In the chapter on The Book of Margery Kempe, I examine that the overemphasis on Margery's potential Wycliffism causes everyone in The Book to overlook her heretical views on universal salvation. Finally, in comparing some of John Lydgate's minor poems with the macaronic sermons of Oxford, MS Bodley 649, I establish the orthodox character of late-medieval English anti-Wycliffism that these disparate works share. In all, this dissertation points up the eschatological character of the lollard-trope and looks at the various ends to which medieval authors deployed it.
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Date: December 2018
Creator: Regetz, Timothy

Rearranging an Infinite Universe: Literary Misprision and Manipulations of Space and Time, 1750-1850

Description: This project explores the intersection of literature and science from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century in the context of this shift in conceptions of space and time. Confronted with the rapid and immense expansion of space and time, eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers and authors sought to locate humans' relative position in the vast void. Furthermore, their attempts to spatially and temporally map the universe led to changes in perceptions of the relationship between the exterior world and the interior self. In this dissertation I focus on a few important textual monuments that serve as landmarks on this journey. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the intersection of literary and scientific texts transformed perceptions of space and time. These transformations then led to further advancements in the way scientific knowledge was articulated. Imagination became central to scientific writing at the same time it came to dominate literary writing. My project explores these intersecting influences among literature, astronomy, cosmology, and geology, on the perceptions of expanding space and time.
Date: December 2018
Creator: Tatum, Brian Shane

"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.
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Riccardelli, Charlie Frank

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.
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Lu, Tsung Che

"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.
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Hyde, Spencer

"Notes for the Manual Assembly"

Description: A collection of poems that seeks the balance between imagination and reality that Wallace Stevens calls for in art, with a preface exploring Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just through the work of two contemporary poets.
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Date: May 2018
Creator: Murray, Jessica

"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 ...
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Date: May 2018
Creator: Peters, Clinton Crockett

"Failure to Yield": Essays

Description: Failure to Yield is a collection of creative nonfiction that explores themes of presence and emotional connection and expression. The seven essays, which include three flash essays, explore the themes by reflecting on such topics as marriage, parent-child relationships and addiction. The collection is woven together by the author's relationships with her parents and children and by her experiences growing up in a small town in Iowa.
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Siegfried, Cary Ann

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

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

Xenotopia: Death and Displacement in the Landscape of Nineteenth-Century American Authorship

Description: This dissertation is an examination of the interiority of American authorship from 1815–1866, an era of political, social, and economic instability in the United States. Without a well-defined historical narrative or an established literary lineage, writers drew upon death and the American landscape as tropes of unity and identification in an effort to define the nation and its literary future. Instead of representing nationalism or collectivism, however, the authors in this study drew on landscapes and death to mediate the crises of authorial displacement through what I term "xenotopia," strange places wherein a venerated American landscape has been disrupted or defamiliarized and inscribed with death or mourning. As opposed to the idealized settings of utopia or the environmental degradation of dystopia, which reflect the positive or negative social currents of a writer's milieu, xenotopia record the contingencies and potential problems that have not yet played out in a nation in the process of self-definition. Beyond this, however, xenotopia register as an assertion of agency and literary definition, a way to record each writer's individual and psychological experience of authorship while answering the call for a new definition of American literature in an indeterminate and undefined space.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Lewis, Darcy Hudelson

"A Kind of Ghost"

Description: A mosaic of past and present, mother and daughter, body and spirit: A Kind of Ghost inhabits memory and imagined spaces, haunting and begging to be remembered.
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Pilcher, Lauren

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.
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Jeffrey, Anthony Cole