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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

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

"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.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Zuehlke, Karl

"Spectral Evidence"

Description: Spectral Evidence is a collection of poems that instigates a variety of omens, signs, divinations, and folktales to explore the concept of wish fulfillment. They arise in obedience to the compulsion to repeat past dramas brought on by failed love, the nostalgia of childhood, the damning legacy of language, the restriction of gender roles, death, etc. In order to quell these anxieties, the speaker looks beyond the self to both history and mythology, often invented mythologies as an attempt to control or recast the story-to give shape to the obscurities of life by creating a system of belief in order to forge meaning or confuse oneself into believing. In many ways this collection is all about belief or in wanting to believe. Through language, God is written into existence. God is the name of the blanket we put over the mystery to give it shape. Here, in this collection, God is an ant's egg. a cherry pit, a colony of white moths, a severed hand, the color red, a little bird. This collection explores these vehicles of meaning, the words that provide the shell of meaning, and the power of invention in hopes to gain control over what is deemed uncontrollable. While the speaker may be casting omens as "pre-ordained" entities outside of her power, it is her convictions in these signs that her own psychological and associative link between their meaning and their appearance that she conjures and creates because the existing systems of language, religion, and belief do not serve her. This creation is what is powerful. It is healing. It is birth. It is not involuntary wish fulfillment. It is the deliberative satisfaction of desire-on of the most insurrectionary acts a woman can execute.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Edwards, Trista Marie

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.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Taylor Juko, Tana

"That Every Christian May Be Suited": Isaac Watts's Hymns in the Writings of Early Mohegan Writers, Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson

Description: This thesis considers how Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson, Mohegan writers in Early America, used the hymns of English hymnodist, Isaac Watts. Each chapter traces how either Samson Occom or Joseph Johnson's adapted Isaac Watts's hymns for Native communities and how these texts are sites of affective sovereignty.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Ridley, Sarah Elizabeth

"How Can We Know the Dancer from the Dance?": Cognitive Poetics and the Poetry of William Butler Yeats

Description: 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.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Pagel, Amber Noelle

Wake

Description: Preface: A consideration of the New Sincerity movement in contemporary American poetics in the work of Tao Lin, Matt Hart, and Dorothea Lasky. Creative work: A three section book of poetry exploring elegy, form, and the intersection of strangeness and domesticity.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Beard, Christopher Aaron

"Southern Tongues Leave Us Shining"

Description: A collection of poems that are history- and place-infused lyrical songs that that sounds the landscapes and distances of the South, with a critical preface that explores erotic encounters with the divine.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Wagenaar, Mark

The Spinning Place

Description: "The Spinning Place" finds its impetus in the intersection of the spiritual and material, and while often dwelling in a domestic milieu, the poems move outward both figuratively and literally. For instance, one poem re-narrates the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, several poems are about divination by various means (frogs, animal behavior), and another performs an erasure of the last supper so that it instead tells a woman's experience in a delivery room. I borrow the title of the collection from a stanza of Dylan Thomas's poem "Fern Hill," and the excerpt (which will become an epigraph to the book) reads: "So it must have been after the birth of the simple light / In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm / Out of the whinnying green stable / On to the fields of praise." Thomas refers to the newly created earth as the "spinning place," imagining the fleeting idyll and harmony of that scene. In a similar way, my new poems specifically explore moments of creation, birth, and discovery, drawing from a variety of inspirations, including recognizable narratives and myths, as well as personal experience.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Wagenaar, Chelsea

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.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Laredo, Jeanette A

Nym (A Novel)

Description: 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.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Sweeney, Mark

Ours is the Kingdom of Heaven: Racial Construction of Early American Christian Identities

Description: 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 ...
Date: May 2016
Creator: Robinson, Heather L

With the Earth in Mind: Ecological Grief in the Contemporary American Novel

Description: "With the Earth in Mind" responds to some of the most cutting-edge research in the field of ecocriticism, which centers on ecological loss and the grief that ensues. Ecocritics argue that ecological objects of loss abound--for instance, species are disappearing and landscapes are becoming increasingly compromised--and yet, such loss is often deemed "ungrievable." While humans regularly grieve human losses, we understand very little about how to genuinely grieve the loss of nonhuman being, natural environments, and ecological processes. My dissertation calls attention to our society's tendency to participate in superficial nature-nostalgia, rather than active and engaged environmental mourning, and ultimately activism. Herein, I investigate how an array of postwar and contemporary American novels represent a complex relationship between environmental degradation and mental illness. Literature, I suggest, is crucial to investigations of this problem because it can reveal the human consequences of ecological loss in a way that is unavailable to political, philosophical, scientific, and even psychological discourse.
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Date: May 2016
Creator: Reis, Ashley Elaine

"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

Welcome to the Rest of It

Description: This creative nonfiction dissertation is a book of essays that explore the author's life and relationship to Upstate New York. The project also connects this experience to gender and trauma. Though the topics range from local history to cosmetic surgical procedures, the essays are collected by how they illuminate cultural tensions and universal truths. These essays are preceded by a critical preface that examines the differences between essays collections, books of essays, and argues for the recognition of narrative nonfiction as an artistic choice.
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Date: May 2016
Creator: Murphy, April Josephine

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

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

The Laureates’ Lens: Exposing the Development of Literary History and Literary Criticism From Beneath the Dunce Cap

Description: 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 ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Moore, Lindsay Emory

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.
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Date: August 2015
Creator: Davis, Matthew

“Wolf Man”

Description: This creative nonfiction dissertation is a memoir that probes the complex life and death of the author’s father, who became addicted in his late forties to crack cocaine. While the primary concerns are the reasons and ways in which the father changed from a family man into a drug addict, the memoir is also concerned with themes of family life, childhood, and grief. After his father’s death, the author moves to Las Vegas and experiences similar addiction issues, which he then explores to help shed light on his father’s problems. To enrich the investigation, the author draws from eclectic sources, including news articles, literature, mythology, sociology, religion, music, TV, interviews, and inherited objects from his father. In dissecting the life of his father, the author simultaneously examines broader issues surrounding modern fatherhood, such as cultural expectations, as well as the problems of emptiness, isolation, and spiritual deficiency.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Flanagan, Ryan