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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

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

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

"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

"Second Life, Second Chance"

Description: This is a collection of two stories, one fiction and one non-fiction, in communication with one another. Both stories explore how trauma can transform a life. In "Tabula Rasa," Mena is unable to recall her past after being beaten and left for dead. She must choose whether to uncover her past or forget it and move forward with her life. Set in a town run by witches, Mena learns that both choices are dangerous. In "Eternal Second," the narrator recounts the aftermath of her husband's suicide. She explores how trauma invades all aspects of her life. In both stories, women must navigate a new life created by the destruction of the old one.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Beattie, Jessica Kathrine

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

"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.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Ridley, Sarah Elizabeth

Clocks and Mirrors

Description: The essays featured in this collection highlight the gaps, as well as parallels, between mental illness and the human condition. In "Appearances," the narrator struggles with her own visual identity especially after reflecting on her Mom's own lengthy history with the mirror. In "Migrations," the lyrical voice of the narrator carries the reader through the typical day of a clinically depressed female character. Lastly, "Attempting the Fall," addresses the issues society has with mental illness by following the narrator from her suicide attempt to the mental ward.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Thies, Jaclyn Michele

"Counting Out The Harvest"

Description: "Counting Out The Harvest" is a collection of poems exploring intimate encounters. The poems reflect on encounters with memories, family, and the natural and cosmic worlds. In one of the poems, "Red-Throated Anole," the speaker works desperately to save a small dying lizard. In "Ice Storm, Post-Divorce," the speaker attempts to decipher a cluster of ladybugs taking refuge in her room. In the title poem, a couple wonders patiently if their crop will eventually grow. In each of these poems there is a present longing for the construction of a meaningful identity by means of the encounter, but the intersection between speaker and world falls short of satisfaction, whether the faultiness lies in the body's inability to find full sustenance, or in the ever-changing fluidity of memory to find stability. But the poems progress from pressing against this difficulty toward finding a contented resignation to the world's cyclical order. The final line of the manuscript, "disrobe a layer to begin again," indicates an arrival at satisfaction, which is found ultimately in continuation.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Lischau, Carol

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

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.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Wagenaar, Chelsea

"This Fundamental Lack": Stories

Description: This short story collection includes five original works of fiction, three of which make up a trilogy titled "The World Drops Beneath You," which follows the life of James McClellan from 1969 in Texas until roughly 2009, when he is struggling to care for his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. One of the two remaining stories, "She Loved Him When He Looked Like Elvis," prominently features James McClellan's parents and is set approximately eight years before the start of the trilogy. Each of the stories is concerned with blue-collar families trying to make their way in postindustrial America and the forces that buffet them, including some brought on by the choices they make.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Bohanan, Ronal L.

Eaten: A Novel

Description: This novel operates on two levels. First, it is a story concerning the fate of a young woman named Raven Adams, who is prompted into journeying westward after witnessing what she believes to be an omen. On another level, however, the novel is intended to be a philosophical questioning of western modes of “science-based” singular conceptualizations of reality, which argue that there is only one “real world” and anyone who deviates from this is “crazy,” “stupid,” or “wrong.” Raven as a character sees the world in terms of what might be called “magical thinking” in modern psychology; her closest relationship is with a living embodiment of a story, the ancient philosopher Diogenes, which she believes is capable of possessing others and directing her journey. As the story continues the reader comes to understand Raven’s perceptions of her reality, leading to a conceptualization of reality as being “multi-layered.” Eventually these layers are collapsed and unified in the final chapters. The novel makes use of many reference points including philosophy, classical mythology, folklore, religion, and internet social media in order to guide the reader along Raven’s story.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Foster, Natalie

"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

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.

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.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Murphy, April Josephine

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.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Reis, Ashley Elaine