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Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture

Description: This study explores intersections between performance, race and masculinity within a variety of expressive cultural contexts during and after the African American Civil Rights Movement. I maintain that the work of James Baldwin is best situated to help us navigate this cross section, as his fiction and cultural criticism focus heavily on the stage in all its incarnations as a space for negotiating the possibilities and limits of expressive culture in combating harmful racial narratives imposed upon black men in America. My thesis begins with a close reading of the performers populating his story collection Going to Meet the Man (1965) before broadening my scope in the following chapters to include analyses of the diametric masculinities in the world of professional boxing and the black roots of the American punk movement. Engaging with theorists like Judith Butler, bell hooks and Paul Gilroy, Underground Men attempts to put these seemingly disparate corners of American life into a dynamic conversation that broadens our understanding through a novel application of critical race, gender and performance theories. Baldwin and his orbiting criticism remain the hub of my investigation throughout, and I use his template of black genius performance outlined in works like Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1967) and Just Above My Head (1977) to aid our understanding of how performance prescribes and scrambles dominant narratives about black men after the sexual revolution.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Gray, Jezy J.

Shakespeare and Modeling Political Subjectivity

Description: This dissertation examines the role of aesthetic activity in the pursuit of political agency in readings of several of Shakespeare’s plays, including Hamlet (1600), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595), The Tempest (1610), the history plays of the second tetralogy (1595-9), Julius Caesar (1599), and Coriolanus (1605). I demonstrate how Shakespeare models political subjectivity—the capacity for individuals to participate meaningfully in the political realm—as necessitating active aesthetic agency. This aesthetic agency entails the fashioning of artistically conceived public personae that potential political subjects enact in the public sphere and the critical engagement of the aesthetic and political discourses of the subjects’ culture in a self-reflective and appropriative manner. Furthermore, these subjects should be wary auditors of the texts and personae they encounter within the public sphere in order to avoid internalizing constraining ideologies that reify their identities into forms less conducive to the pursuit of liberty and social mobility. Early modern audiences could discover several models for doing so in Shakespeare’s works. For example, Hamlet posits a model of Machiavellian theatricality that masks the Prince's interiority as he resists the biopolitical force and disciplinary discourses of Claudius's Denmark. Julius Caesar and Coriolanus advance a model of citizenship through the plays’ nameless plebeians in which rhetoric offers the means to participate in Rome’s political culture, and Shakespeare’s England for audiences, while authorities manipulate citizen opinion by molding the popularity of public figures. Public, artistic ability affords potential political subjects ways of not only framing their participation in their culture but also ways of conceiving of their identities and relationships to society that may defy normative notions of membership in the community.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Worlow, Christian D.

Mr Secrets and Social Media: the Confession of Richard Rodriguez

Description: Richard Rodriguez's works create troubling situations for many scholars. Though numerous critics see him as the penultimate Chicano writer, many others see his writing as only pandering to the elite. However, all politics and controversies aside, he is a writer whose ideas upon language and public confession have been revolutionary. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Rodriguez's ideas upon language and identity are applicable to the social media landscape that we reside in currently, especially the public confession. Also, I use deconstructionism, along with postmodern criticism, to illustrate the changing arc of Rodriguez's confession from his first autobiography to his final one. In his first memoir, Rodriguez remains in the closet upon his sexuality, and the reader only catches glimpses of the 'real' character inside his work. In the second memoir, the reader sees a better glimpse because of his coming out; yet, even in this regard, he does not do so wholly and still leaves his confession unfinished. By the third, he applies themes and problems seen in his first and second works to discuss our browning nature, and how we are all sinners and that we desire to confess our sins. In my assessment of Rodriguez, I argue throughout all my chapters upon a measure of irreconcilability between the private world of the Hispanic immigrant family and the public sphere that they are forced to inhabit because of his citizenship and education. This irreconcilability creates a drastic limiting of identity for the author that Rodriguez is forced to navigate which creates his desire for confession.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Burns, Amanda Jill

Specter

Description: This dissertation is a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface considers the major changes within the elegy from the traditional English elegy—the touchstone poems for this genre being Milton's "Lycidas," Shelley's "Adonais," and Tennyson's "In Memoriam"—to the contemporary elegy and argues that many of these changes showcase contemporary elegists' active refusal and reversal of the time-honored traditions of the form. The preface is divided into an introduction and three sections, each of which recognizes and explores one significant alteration—or reversal—to the conventions of the form as established by early English elegists. The first discusses the traditional elegiac tradition of consolation in which the speaker, after displaying a series of emotions in reaction to the death of a loved one, ultimately finds comfort in the knowledge that the deceased lives eternally in heaven. This convention is contrasted with a common contemporary rhetorical movement in which the speaker not only lacks comfort by the end of the poem, but often refuses any kind of consolation, preferring instead to continue his grief. The second recognizes and explores the traditional elegiac tradition in which the speaker, listing the virtues of the beloved, replaces the real, historical person with a symbol which represents what society has lost due to this death. This convention is contrasted against a common contemporary theme in which the speaker, in an attempt to evoke authenticity, portrays the deceased subject not as a romanticized symbol, but as a real human being. The final section discusses the definition of the traditional elegy as a reaction to the literal death of a loved one and contrasts this with the more fluid contemporary understanding of the elegy as a poem about loss—either a literal or metaphorical death—and a poem which need not display conventional aspects of mourning but rather a ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Sharpe, Mary Victoria

Warrior Women in Early Modern Literature

Description: Fantasies about warrior women circulated in many forms of writing in early modern England: travel narratives such as Sir Walter Ralegh's The Discoverie of Guiana (1595) portray Amazon encounters in the New World; poems like Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1596) depict women's skill with a spear; and the plays of Shakespeare, John Fletcher, and others stage the adventurous feats of women on the battlefield. In this dissertation, I analyze the social anxieties that emerge when warrior women threaten gender hierarchies in the patriarchal society of early modern England. The battlefield has traditionally been a site for men to prove their masculinity against other men, so when male characters find themselves submitting to a sword-wielding woman, they are forced to reimagine their own masculine identities as they become the objects acted upon by women. In their experience of subjectivity, these literary warrior women often allude to the historical Queen Elizabeth I, whose reign destabilized ideas about gender and power in the period. Negative evaluations of warrior women often indicate anxiety about Elizabeth as an Amazon-like queen. Thus, portrayals of warrior women often end with a celebration of patriarchal dominance once the male characters have successfully contained the threat of the warrior woman through marriage or death. I argue that these depictions of containment indicate a common desire to maintain patriarchal superiority during and after Elizabeth's reign.
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Date: May 2013
Creator: Oxendine, Jessica Grace

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

Description: This dissertation tracks the intimate relationship between writing and the body to add new dimensions to humoral criticism and textual studies of Renaissance literature. Most humor theory focuses on the volatile, permeable nature of the body, and its vulnerability to environmental stimuli, neglecting the important role that written texts play in this economy of fluids. I apply the principles of humor theory to the study of handwritten and printed texts. This approach demonstrates that the textual economy of the period—reading, writing, publishing, exchanging letters, performing all of the above on stage—mirrors the economy of fluids that governed the humoral body. Early modern readers and writers could imagine textual activities not only as cerebral, abstract concepts, but also as sexual activities, as processes of ingestion and regurgitation. My study of ink combines humoral, historical materialist, and ecocritical modes of study. Materialist critics have examined the quill, paper, and printing press as metaphors for the body; however, the ink within them remains unexamined. This dissertation infuses the figurative body of the press with circulating passions, and brings to bear the natural, biochemical properties that ink lends to the texts it creates. Considering the influence of written and printed materials on the body in early modern poetry and drama requires consideration of the murky liquid from which these texts were composed. For early moderns, writing began with the precise, anatomical slicing of a goose feather, with the crushing of oak galls into wine or rainwater, with the application of heat and ferrous sulfate. These raw materials underwent a violent transformation to fill early modern inkwells. As a result of that mystical concoction, the fluid inside these vessels became humoral. The ink on a page represented one person's passions potentially invading the body of another. Therefore, ink serves as more than a metaphor for ...
Date: December 2012
Creator: Polster, Kristen Kayem

Antigravity

Description: This dissertation contains two parts: Part I, which discusses the elegy of possessive intent, a subgenre of the contemporary American elegy; and Part II, Antigravity, a collection of poems. English elegies have been closely rooted to a specific grief, making the poems closer to occasional poems. The poet—or at least the poet’s speaker—seeks some kind of public consolation for (often) a private loss. The Americanized form does stray from the traditional elegy yet retains some of its characteristics. Some American elegies memorialize failed romantic relationships rather than the dead. In their memorials, these speakers seek a completion for the lack the broken relationship has created in the speakers’ lives. What they can’t replace, they substitute with something personal. As the contemporary poem becomes further removed from tradition, it’s no surprise that the elegy has evolved as well. Discussions of elegies have never ventured into the type of elegy that concerns itself with the sort of unacknowledged loss found in some contemporary American poems of unrequited love. These poems all have speakers who willfully refuse to acknowledge the loss of their love-objects and strive to maintain control/ownership of their beloveds even in the face of rejection.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Bowen, Ashley Hamilton

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.
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Date: August 2012
Creator: Kim, Soon Bae

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

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.
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Date: August 2012
Creator: Coleman, Britta

The Useful Arts

Description: This creative nonfiction dissertation is a series of braided narratives that chronicle the author's career as a trombonist in the John Smith Ensemble. As an amateur trombonist, the author is shocked to be hired as a professional musician for an orchestra that plays on PBS and at Carnegie Hall. She quickly realizes, however, that the job requires her to play the trombone quietly in front of an unplugged microphone while a CD recording of another, more talented trombonist is blasted out toward an unknowing audience. The job also requires the author to tour around America. The scenes of from this tour are braided with scenes wherein she reflects on her life as a professional fake musician and her past failed attempts at getting a job.
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Date: August 2012
Creator: Hindman, Jessica

After the Planes

Description: The dissertation consists of a critical preface and a novel. The preface analyzes what it terms “polyvocal” novels, or novels employing multiple points of view, as well as “layered storytelling,” or layers of textuality within novels, such as stories within stories. Specifically, the first part of the preface discusses polyvocality in twenty-first century American novels, while the second part explores layered storytelling in novels responding to World War II or the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The preface analyzes the advantages and difficulties connected to these techniques, as well as their aptitude for reflecting the fractured, disconnected, and subjective nature of the narratives we construct to interpret traumatic experiences. It also acknowledges the necessity—despite its inherent limitations—of using language to engage with this fragmentation and cope with its challenges. The preface uses numerous novels as examples and case studies, and it also explores these concepts and techniques in relation to the process of writing the novel After the Planes. After the Planes depicts multiple generations of a family who utilize storytelling as a means to work through grief, hurt, misunderstanding, and loss—whether from interpersonal conflicts or from war. Against her father’s wishes, a young woman moves in with her nearly-unknown grandfather, struggling to understand the rifts in her family and how they have shaped her own identity. She reads a book sent to her by her father, which turns out to be his story of growing up in the years following World War II. The book was intercepted and emended by her grandfather, who inserts his own commentary throughout, complicating her father’s hopes of reconciliation. The novel moves between two main narratives, one set primarily in 1951 and the other in the days and weeks immediately prior to September 11, 2001.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Boswell, Timothy

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Description: This study explores Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s use of the dramatic form to challenge Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism by offering feminist adaptations of Darwin’s theories of natural and sexual selection. As she does in her career-defining manifesto, Women & Economics (1898), Gilman in her lesser-known plays deploys her own brand of reform Darwinism to serve the feminist cause. Despite her absence in histories of modern drama, Gilman actively participated in the establishment and development of this literary, historical, and cultural movement. After situating Gilman in the context of nineteenth-century naturalist theater, this thesis examines two short dramatic dialogues she published in 1890, “The Quarrel,” and “Dame Nature Interviewed,” as well as two full-length plays, Interrupted (1909) and the Balsam Fir (1910). These plays demonstrate Gilman’s efforts to use the dramatic form in her early plays to “rehearse” for Women & Economics, and in her later drama, to “stage” the theories she presents in that book.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Tolle, Andrew

A New Literary Realism: Artistic Renderings of Ethnicity, Identity, and Sexuality in the Narratives of Philip Roth

Description: This dissertation explores Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories (1959), the Ghost Writer (1979), the Counterlife (1986), the Facts (1988), Operation Shylock (1993), Sabbath's Theater (1995),and the Human Stain (2000), arguing that Roth relishes the telling of the story and the search for self within that telling. with attention to narrative technique and its relation to issues surrounding reality and identity, Roth's narratives stress unreliability, causing Roth to create characters searching for a more complex interpretation of self. Chapter I examines Roth’s negotiation of dual identities as Neil Klugman in Goodbye, Columbus feels alienated and displaced from Christianized America. the search for identity and the merging of American Christianity and Judaism remain a focus in Chapter II, which explores the implications of how, in the Ghost Writer, a young Nathan Zuckerman visits his mentor E.I. Lonoff to find him living in what he believes to be a non-Jewish environment—the American wilderness. Chapter II also examines the difficulties of cultural assimilation in "Eli, the Fanatic," in which Eli must shed outward appearances of Judaism to fit into the mostly Protestant community of Woodenton. Relative to the negotiation of multiple identities, Chapter III considers Sabbath’s attempt, in Sabbath’s Theater, to reconcile his spiritual and physical self when seeking to avoid his inevitable death. Exploring a further dimension of the search for self, Chapter IV traces the legacy of stereotyped notions of identity, considering ways in which Roth subverts stereotypes in the Human Stain. the search for identity and its particular truths remains a focus of Chapter V, which explores Roth's creation of an unstable reality through the Counterlife, the Facts, Operation Shylock, and the Human Stain, suggesting that the literary imagination matters more than truth in fiction. in its attention to Roth's focus on identity, race, and narrative technique, this dissertation contributes ...
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Date: May 2012
Creator: Harvell, Marta Krogh

Road Debris

Description: This dissertation comprises two parts: Part I, which discusses the growing trend in project books in contemporary poetry, and Part II, a collection of poems titled, Road Debris. There is an increasing trend in the number of project books, which are collections of poetry unified in both thematic and formal ways. the individual poems in a project book share overt connections which allow the book to work on many different levels, blending elements of fiction and non-fiction or sharing a specific theme or speaker. While these books have the advantage of being easily memorable, which might gain poets an edge in book contests, there are also many risks involved. the main issue surrounding project books is if the individual poems can justify the book, or do they seem too repetitive or forced. As more poets, especially newer ones, try to use the project book as a shortcut to publication, it can result in poorly written poems forced to fit into a particular concept. By examining three successful cotemporary project books—The Quick of It, by Eamon Grennan; Incident Light, by H. L. Hix; and Romey’s Order by Astory Riley—this essay discusses how these books work in order to understand the potential of the project book. All of these books work in distinctly different ways, yet they all fall into the category of project book. While project books will inevitably result in poor imitations, it allows books of poetry to expand and explore in different directions.
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Date: May 2012
Creator: Dewoody, Dale W.

Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Description: This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been seemingly ignored; thus, my research investigates the enmeshed relationship between these two areas of study. Not only do patriotic sentiment and humor frequently overlap, they often form a causational relationship wherein a writer’s rhetorical invocation of shared cultural experiences creates humorous self-awareness while “inside” jokes which reference unique Anglo-specific behaviors or collective memories promote a positive identity with the culture in question. Drawing on and extending the work of James Kincaid’s Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Harold Nicolson’s “The English Sense of Humor,” and Bergson’s and Freud’s theories of humor as a social construct, I question how this reciprocated relationship of English ethnic identity and humor functions within Victorian novels by examining the various ways in which nineteenth-century authors used humor to encourage affirmative patriotic sentiment within their readers.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Stober, Katharyn L.

Understanding the Owner’s Manual: the United States Constitution Examined Through the Lens of Technical Communication

Description: This dissertation explores the collaborative process and use of language that went into the creating the United States Constitution in 1787. From a technical communication perspective, the collaborative process explored did not develop any new theories on collaboration, but instead, allows scholars to track the emergence of a well-documented America collaborative process from the early period of the developing American nation on a document that has remained in use for over 235 years. in addition to examining this collaborative process, the author also discusses the use of passive voice and negative language in the first article of the Constitution.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Elerson, Crystal

Noctilucent

Description: This dissertation is composed of two parts. Part I discusses the evolution of meditative poetry as a genre, with a particular emphasis on the influence of women poets and feminist critical theory. Part II is a collection of poems. Although several popular and critically-acclaimed poets working today write meditative poems, meditative poetry as a genre has not been systematically examined since M.H. Abrams’s essay on the meditative mode in Romantic poetry, “Structure and Style in the Greater Romantic Lyric.” Because one of the driving forces of meditative poetry is a longing for, or recognition of, a state of perception that lies between individual being and some form of universal ordering principle, meditative poetry might seem to be antithetical to a postmodern world that is fragmentary, contingent, and performative; indeed, earlier definitions of meditative poetry, tied to historical and cultural understandings of the individual and the Universal, no longer reflect “how we know” but only “how we knew.” However, this essay argues that there is a contemporary meditative structure that allows for a continued relationship between the individual and the Universal without resorting to the essentialism implicit in the genre as traditionally described. This new structure owes much to feminist theory, in particular écriture féminine, which models a method for recovery of self in language that would seek to efface it. In order to expose the boundaries of the contemporary meditative mode, and to outline its relationship to écriture féminine, this essay analyzes meditative poems from four contemporary poets: Kay Ryan, Jorie Graham, Linda Gregerson, and Linda Bierds, and contrasts contemporary variations on the genre with earlier traditions, identifying an evolved form that better reflects a postmodern rhetoric.
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Date: December 2011
Creator: Bush, Mary Gwen

Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Description: This thesis investigates the similarities in the study of time and space in literature and science during the modern period. Specifically, it focuses on the portrayal of time and space within Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1899-1900), and compares the ideas presented with those later scientifically formulated by Albert Einstein in his special and general theories of relativity (1905-1915). Although both novels precede Einstein’s theories, they reveal advanced complex ideas of time and space very similar to those later argued by the iconic physicist. These ideas follow a linear progression including a sense of temporal dissonance, the search for a communal sense of the present, the awareness and expansion of the individual’s sense of the present, and the effect of mass on surrounding space. This approach enhances readings of Dracula and Lord Jim, illuminating the fascination with highly refined notions of time and space within modern European culture.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Tatum, Brian Shane

A Boy in a Canoe

Description: The dissertation consists of a collection of personal essays about hunting and fishing. Because the essays are narratives and contain dialogue, characterization, description, themes, etc., they fall under the genre of creative nonfiction. The dissertation has two parts. Part I consists of an essay that discusses the author’s struggle to combine creative nonfiction with outdoor writing and also describes the author’s dilemma of writing about hunting, a topic that is often controversial at the university, while a graduate student. Part II of the dissertation consists of narratives that recount the author’s hunting and fishing experiences that occurred in North Texas and in the mountains of New Mexico. The essays discuss fishing for trout and hunting for deer, wild boars, quail, and duck. Three major themes are developed throughout the dissertation. The first theme describes the close relationship that exists between the author and his father. This closeness is partly due to the time that they have shared during decades of hunting and fishing together. The second theme discusses the ethics of hunting and especially focuses on which methods of hunting are ethical and which methods are not. The third theme explores the complex and sometimes unpleasant interactions that occur between sportsmen when they encounter each other while hunting and fishing. This theme explores the give and take attitude that must exist in order for sportsmen to get along. This attitude is necessary because no two outdoorsmen view the outdoors and hunting and fishing in quite the same way.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Parr, David

Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Description: The interjection of a new and dynamically different reading of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is imperative, if scholars want to clearly see many of the hidden facets of the novel that have gone unexamined because of out-dated scholarship. Ian Watt’s assumption that Sterne “would probably have been the supreme figure among eighteenth-century novelists” (291) if he had not tried to be so odd, and the conclusion that he draws, that “Tristram Shandy is not so much a novel as a parody of a novel” (291), is incorrect. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Sterne was not burlesquing other novelists, but instead, was engaging with themes that are now being examined by postmodern theories of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jean François Lyotard: themes like the impenetrability of identity (“Don’t puzzle me” (TS 7.33.633)), the insufficiency of language (“Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words” (5.6.429)), and the unavailability of permanence (“Time wastes too fast” (9.8.754)). I actively engage with their theories to deconstruct unexamined themes inside Tristram Shandy, and illuminate postmodern elements inside the novel. However, I do not argue that Tristram Shandy is postmodern. Instead, I argue that if the reader examines the novel outside of its usual context inside the eighteenth-century novel, there are themes that are apparent in the narrative which have gone unexamined because of the way it has been classified inside academia, and that postmodernist theory allows for these themes to be re-examined in the postmodern culture in which we now reside.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Burns, Anthony Louis

Reconsidering Regionalism: The Environmental Ethics of Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Willa Cather

Description: This study identifies environmentalist themes in the fiction and nonfiction of Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Willa Cather and argues that these ideals are interdependent upon the authors’ humanistic objectives. Focusing on these three authors’ overlapping interest in topics such as women’s rights, environmental health, and Native American history, this dissertation calls attention to the presence of a frequently unexplored but distinct, traceable feminist environmental ethic in American women’s regional writing. This set of beliefs involves a critique of the threats posed by a patriarchal society to both the environment and its human inhabitants, particularly the women, and thus can be classified as proto-ecofeminist. Moreover, the authors’ shared emphasis on the benefits of local environmental knowledge and stewardship demonstrates vital characteristics of the bioregionalist perspective, a modern form of environmental activism that promotes sustainability at a local level and mutually beneficial relationships among human and nonhuman inhabitants of a naturally defined region. Thus, the study ultimately defines a particular form of women’s literary activism that emerged in the last decades of the nineteenth century and argues for these authors’ continued theoretical relevance to a twenty-first-century audience increasingly invested in understanding and resolving a global environmental predicament.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Clasen, Kelly

Generosity and Gentillesse: Economic Exchange in Medieval English Romance

Description: This study explores how three English romances of the late fourteenth century-Geoffrey Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight-employ economic exchange as a tool to illustrate community ideals. Although gift-giving and commerce are common motifs in medieval romance, these three romances depict acts of generosity and exchange that demonstrate fundamental principles of proper behavior by uniting characters in the poems in spite of social divisions such as gender or social class. Economic imagery in fourteenth-century romances merits particular consideration because of Richard II's prolific expenditure, which created such turbulence that the peasants revolted in 1381. The court's openhanded spending led to social unrest, but in romances a character's largesse strengthens community bonds by showing that all members of a group participate in an idealized gift economy. Positioned within the context of economic tensions, exchange in romances can lead readers to reexamine notions of group identity. Chestre's Sir Launfal unites its community under secular principles of economic exchange and evaluation. Using similar motifs of exchange, the Gawain-poet makes Christian and chivalric ideals apparent through Gawain's service and generosity to all those who follow the Christian faith. Further, Chaucer's Franklin's Tale portrays hospitality as a tool to create pleasure, the ultimate goal of service. Although they present different types of group identity, these romances specify that generosity and commerce can illustrate the ideals of a poem's community and demonstrate to the audience model forms of behavior.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Stewart, James T.

The Lexicographer's Daughter: A Memoir

Description: This creative nonfiction dissertation is a memoir of the author's search for the somewhat mysterious hidden past of her father, the lexicographer Charles J. Lovell, who died in 1960, when the author was nine. Her father's early death left the author with many unanswered questions about his past and his family and so she undertakes a search to answer, if possible, some of those questions. Her search takes her to Portland, Maine; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Pasadena, California, where she tries to discover the facts and uncover the forces that shaped her father's life. Along the way, she realizes how profoundly his death affected and shaped her own life, contributing to the theme of loss that pervades the memoir. In addition, she begins to realize how much her mother, Dixie Hefley Lovell, whose significance she previously overlooked, shaped her life. Ultimately, she comes to understand and accept that some of her questions are unanswerable.
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Date: May 2011
Creator: Lovell, Bonnie Alice