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Orality-Literacy Theory and the Victorian Sermon

Description: In this study, I expand the scope of the scholarship that Walter Ong and others have done in orality-literacy relations to examine the often uneasy juxtaposition of the oral and written traditions in the literature of the Victorian pulpit. I begin by examining the intersections of the oral and written traditions found in both the theory and the practice of Victorian preaching. I discuss the prominent place of the sermon within both the print and oral cultures of Victorian Britain; argue that the sermon's status as both oration and essay places it in the genre of "oral literature"; and analyze the debate over the extent to which writing should be employed in the preparation and delivery of sermons.
Date: May 1995
Creator: Ellison, Robert H. (Robert Howard)

Plain and Ugly Janes: the Rise of the Ugly Woman in Contemporary American Fiction

Description: Women characters in American literature of the nineteenth century form an overwhelmingly lovely group, but a search through some of the overlooked works reveals a thin but discernible thread of plain, even homely, heroines. Most of these fall into the stereotypical "old maid" category, and, like their real-life counterparts, these "undesirable" women are considered failures, even if they have money or satisfying careers, because they do not have boyfriends, husbands, or children. During the twentieth century, the old maid figure develops into someone not just homely, but downright ugly; in addition, the number of these characters increases, especially in the latter half of the century. In many works written since the 1960s, the woman's ugliness is such an intrinsic part of the story that it could not take place if she were beautiful. In subtle ways, these "ugly woman" stories begin to question the overwhelming value placed on beauty, to question the narrow definition of beauty in American society as a whole, and to suggest that the price for such a "blessing" might indeed be too high. Rather than settling for being a mere "heroine"—which still carries feminine connotations of passive behavior and second-class status—the ugly woman's increase in power over her own life and the lives of others, allows her to achieve a status more in keeping with the more "masculine" and active role of hero.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Wright, Charlotte M.

The Ties that Bind : Breaking the Bonds of Victimization in the Novels of Barbara Pym, Fay Weldon and Margaret Atwood

Description: In this study of several novels each by Barbara Pym, Fay Weldon, and Margaret Atwood, I focus on two areas: the ways in which female protagonists break out of their victimization by individuals, by institutions, and by cultural tradition, and the ways in which each author uses a structural pattern in her novels to propel her characters to solve their dilemmas to the best of their abilities and according to each woman's personality and strengths.
Date: December 1994
Creator: Rathburn, Fran M. (Frances Margaret), 1948-

American Grotesque from Nineteenth Century to Modernism: the Latter's Acceptance of the Exceptional

Description: This dissertation explores a history of the grotesque and its meaning in art and literature along with those of its related term, the arabesque, since their co-existence, specifically in literature, is later treated by a well-known nineteenth-century American writer in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque- Theories or views of the grotesque (used in literature), both in Europe and America, belong to twelve theorists of different eras, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present period, especially Modernism (approximately from 1910 to 1945)--Rabelais, Hegel, Scott, Wright, Hugo, Symonds, Ruskin, Santayana, Kayser, Bakhtin, (William Van) O'Connor, and Spiegel. My study examines the grotesque in American literature, as treated by both nineteenth-century writers--Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, and, significantly, by modernist writers--Anderson, West, and Steinbeck in Northern (or non-Southern) literature; Faulkner, McCullers, and (Flannery) O'Connor in Southern literature. I survey several novels and short stories of these American writers for their grotesqueries in characterization and episodes. The grotesque, as treated by these earlier American writers is often despised, feared, or mistrusted by other characters, but is the opposite in modernist fiction.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Kisawadkorn, Kriengsak

Overcoming the Regional Burden: History, Tradition, and Myth in the Novels of Cormac McCarthy

Description: In Overcoming the Regional Burden: History, Tradition, and Myth in the Novels of Cormac McCarthy, I contend that McCarthy's literary aesthetic develops and changes as he moves from Tennessee to Texas. McCarthy's conspicuous Southern and Southwestern regional affiliations have led critics to expect his works to recapitulate native history, traditions, and myths. Yet, McCarthy transcends provincial regionalism by challenging the creation of the regional and national myths we confuse with our actual histories and identities. McCarthy's fictions point away from accepted histories and point instead to figures marginalized by society and myth makers. These figures, according to McCarthy, are just as much a part of the creation of myth as those figures indelibly imprinted on our consciousness by literary and historical tradition. My dissertation, in many respects, focuses on McCarthy's debunking of both literary and historical tradition, and his concomitant revitalization of American identity.
Date: August 1997
Creator: Wegner, John M. (John Michael)

Deserts I Have Known

Description: Deserts! Have Known contains a scholarly preface exploring why writers write, examining the characteristics offictionwriters, and addressing the importance of place, both emotional and geographical, in fiction. Four original short stories are included in this thesis. "Miracle at Mita" depicts an aging surfer trying to overcome his fear of commitment. "Coyote Man" explores a father's guilt and the isolation resulting from that guilt. "Time, and Time Again" traces a young woman's fear of marriage to her memory of her parents' relationship, and "Paraplegia" examines a young woman immobilized by her own lack of self-esteem. These stories are connected through their themes of isolation and reconnection.
Date: May 1998
Creator: Kinsey, Saralea

East, West, Somewhere in the Middle

Description: A work of creative fiction in novella form, this dissertation follows the first-person travails of Mitch Zeller, a 26-year-old gay man who is faced with an unexpected choice. The dissertation opens with a preface which examines the form of the novella and the content of this particular work.
Date: December 1997
Creator: Behlen, Shawn Lee

A Reading of Shakespeare's Problem Plays into History: A New Historicist Interpretation of Social Crisis and Sexual Politics in Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure

Description: This study is aimed to read Shakespeare's problem comedies, Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure into the historical and cultural context of dynamically-changing English Renaissance society at the turn of the sixteenth century. In the historical context of emerging capitalism, growing economic crisis, reformed theology, changing social hierarchy, and increasing sexual control, this study investigates the nature of complicated moral problems that the plays consistently present. The primary argument is that the serious and dark picture of human dilemma is attributed not to Shakespeare's private imagination, but to social, political, economic, and religious crises in early modern England.
Date: December 1998
Creator: Jin, Kwang Hyun

Unearthing the Spiritual Message in Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire

Description: Unearthing Edward Abbey's spiritual philosophy is not an easy task. One must sift through Abbey's humor, sort through Cactus Ed's flamboyant character, look under the veneer of this character, and beyond Abbey's overt objective of convincing readers to defy the destruction of wilderness, and only then does the spiritual philosophy of Abbey become visible. To understand his perception of spirituality, one must define what constitutes a mystic and determine what American theological philosophies mystics tend to adopt. Once these are defined, one can apply those principles to Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and determine that Abbey is a nature mystic who adheres to the ecocentric based immanence theology. This theology is contrary to the Judeo-Christian based emanation theology which supports anthropocentricism and resourcism.
Date: August 1998
Creator: Jacobs, Pamela

Richard Wilbur and the Poetry of Apocalyptic Interstices

Description: In my dissertation I assert that Wilbur's poetry is not so much an attempt to balance spiritual and physical realities as an attempt to mine the richness that exists in the boundary between the two worlds. I also examine and comment on his poetry that exists in the space created by other apocalyptic interstices as well.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Compton, Randall D. (Randall Dean), 1964-

Language and Identity in Post-1800 Irish Drama

Description: Using a sociolinguistic and post-colonial approach, I analyze Irish dramas that speak about language and its connection to national identity. In order to provide a systematic and wide-ranging study, I have selected plays written at approximately fifty-year intervals and performed before Irish audiences contemporary to their writing. The writers selected represent various aspects of Irish society--religiously, economically, and geographically--and arguably may be considered the outstanding theatrical Irish voices of their respective generations. Examining works by Alicia LeFanu, Dion Boucicault, W.B. Yeats, and Brian Friel, I argue that the way each of these playwrights deals with language and identity demonstrates successful resistance to the destruction of Irish identity by the dominant language power. The work of J. A. Laponce and Ronald Wardhaugh informs my language dominance theory. Briefly, when one language pushes aside another language, the cultural identity begins to shift. The literature of a nation provides evidence of the shifting perception. Drama, because of its performance qualities, provides the most complex and complete literary evidence. The effect of the performed text upon the audience validates a cultural reception beyond what would be possible with isolated readers. Following a theoretical introduction, I analyze the plays in chronological order. Alicia LeFanu's The Sons of Erin; or, Modern Sentiment (1812) gently pleads for equal treatment in a united Britain. Dion Boucicault's three Irish plays, especially The Colleen Bawn (1860) but also Arrah-na-Pogue (1864) and The Shaughraun (1875), satirically conceal rebellious nationalist tendencies under the cloak of melodrama. W. B. Yeats's The Countess Cathleen (1899) reveals his romantic hope for healing the national identity through the powers of language. However, The Only Jealousy of Emer (1919) and The Death of Cuchulain (1939) reveal an increasing distrust of language to mythically heal Ireland. Brian Friel's Translations (1980), supported by The Communication Cord (1982) and Making ...
Date: May 1994
Creator: Duncan, Dawn E. (Dawn Elaine)

The Monstrance: A Collection of Poems

Description: These poems deconstruct Mary Shelley's monster from a spiritually Chthonian, critically post-structuralist creative stance. But the process here is not simple disruption of the original discourse; this poetry cycle transforms the monster's traditional body, using what pieces are left from reception/vivisection to reconstruct, through gradual accretion, new authority for each new form, each new appendage.
Date: May 1994
Creator: Dietrich, Bryan D. (Bryan David)

(Broken) Promises

Description: The dissertation begins with an introductory chapter that examines the short story cycle as a specific genre, outlines tendencies found in minimalist fiction, and discusses proposed definitions of the short story genre. The introduction examines the problems that short story theorists encounter when they try to.define the short story genre in general. Part of the problem results from the lack of a definition of the short story in the Aristotelian sense of a definition. A looser, less traditional definition of literary genres helps solve some of the problem. Minimalist fiction and the short story cycle are discussed as particular forms of the short story. Sixteen short stories follow the introduction.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Champion, Laurie, 1959-

The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

Description: The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, and thus salvation, it illustrates that the abolitionist's intent was not merely to save the slave, but to redeem blacks first in the eyes of white Christians by opening blacks to an understanding and acceptance of God. Perhaps more importantly, abolitionists would use black salvation to buy back their own souls and the soul of their nation in the eyes of God in order to regain their own salvation lost in the slave trade. But ironically, they had to appear to be saving others to save themselves. So white abolitionists used the black narratives to persuade their overwhelmingly white audience ...
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Date: December 1999
Creator: Evans, Dennis F.

Chaucer and the Rhetorical Limits of Exemplary Literature

Description: Though much has been made of Chaucer's saintly characters, relatively little has been made of Chaucer's approach to hagiography. While strictly speaking Chaucer produced only one true saint's life (the Second Nun's Tale), he was repeatedly intrigued and challenged by exemplary literature. The few studies of Chaucer's use of hagiography have tended to claim either his complete orthodoxy as hagiographer, or his outright parody of the genre. My study mediates the orthodoxy/parody split by viewing Chaucer as a serious, but self-conscious, hagiographer, one who experimented with the possibilities of exemplary narrative and explored the rhetorical tensions intrinsic to the genre, namely the tensions between transcendence and imminence, reverence and identification, and epideictic deliberative discourse.
Date: May 1999
Creator: Youmans, Karen DeMent

Interactions Between Texts, Illustrations, and Readers: The Empiricist, Imperialist Narratives and Polemics of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Description: While literary critics heretofore have subordinated Conan Doyle to more "canonical" writers, the author argues that his writings enrich our understanding of the ways in which Victorians and Edwardians constructed their identity as imperialists and that we therefore cannot afford to overlook Conan Doyle's work.
Date: December 1995
Creator: Favor, Lesli J.

Non-Native Speakers of English and Denominal Regularization

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine whether nonnative speakers of English have access to specifically-linguistic constraints governing past tense morphology. Forty non-native speakers of English rated the naturalness of 29 exocentric, or headless, verbs in a partial replication of Kim, Pinker, Prince, and Prasada (1991) which looked at the same phenomenon in native speakers. Nonnative speaker performance was similar to the 40 subject native speaker control group. A correlation also existed between length of residence and subject ratings. The results imply that non-native speakers have access to the rules governing past tense morphology although not as completely as native speakers.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Borden, David S. (David Scott)

Pre-Feminist Indicators in Margaret Oliphant's Early Responses to the Woman Question

Description: Margaret Oliphant's fiction has generated some interest in recent years, but her prose essays have been ignored. Critics contend her essays are unimportant and dismiss Oliphant as a hack writer who had little sympathy with her sex. These charges are untrue, however, because many influences complicated Oliphant's writings on the Woman Question. She suffered recurring financial difficulties and gender discrimination, she lacked formal education, and most of her work was published by Blackwood's, a conservative, male-oriented periodical edited by a close personal friend. Readers who are aware of these influences find Oliphant's earliest three essays about the Woman Question especially provocative because in them Oliphant explored the dichotomy between the perceived and the real lives of women. Oliphant refined her opinions each time she wrote on the Woman Question, and a more coherent, more clearly feminist, perspective emerges in each succeeding article. In "The Laws Concerning Women," despite Oliphant's apparent position, pre-feminist markers suggest that she is tentative about feminist ideas rather than negative towards them. "The Condition of Women" offers even more prefeminist markers, Oliphant's ostensible support of the patriarchal status quo notwithstanding. In "The Great Unrepresented," an article cited by some as proof that Oliphant was against women's suffrage, she argues not against enfranchising women, but against the method proposed for securing the vote. In this article, many pre-feminist markers have become decidedly feminist. Scholars may have overlooked Oliphant's feminism because her rhetorical strategies are more complicated than those of most other Victorian critics and invite her audience to read between the lines. Although her writing sometimes lacks unity and focus, and her prose is often turgid, convoluted, and digressive, she creates elaborate inverse arguments with claims supporting patriarchy but evidence that supports feminism. A rich feminist subtext lies beneath the surface text of Oliphant's essays, demonstrating that ...
Date: December 1996
Creator: Spencer, Sandra L.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Quest for the Father

Description: This dissertation explores Elizabeth Barrett's dependency on the archetypal Victorian patriarch. Chapter I focuses on the psychological effects of this father-daughter relationship on Elizabeth Barrett. Chapter II addresses Barrett's acceptance of the conventional female role, which is suggested by the nature and the situation of the women she chooses to depict. These women are placed in situations where they can reveal their devotion to family, their capacity for passive endurance, and their wish to resist. Almost always, they choose death as an alternative to life where a powerful father figure is present. Chapter III concentrates on the highly sentimental images of women and children whom Barrett places in a divine order, where they exist untouched by the concerns of the social order of which they are a part. Chapter IV shows that the conventional ideologies of the time, society's commitment to the "angel in the house," and the small number of female role models before her increase her difficulty to find herself a place within this order. Chapter V discusses Aurora Leigh's mission to find herself an identity and to maintain the connection with her father or father substitute. Despite Elizabeth Barrett's desire to break away from her paternal ties and to establish herself as an independent woman and poet, her unconditional loyalty and love towards her father and her tremendous need for his affection, and the security he provides restrain her resistance and surface the child in her.
Date: December 1996
Creator: Yegenoglu, Dilara

A Sensory Tour of Cape Cod: Thoreau's Transcendental Journey to Spiritual Renewal

Description: Predominantly darker than his other works, Cape Cod depicts Henry David Thoreau's interpretation of life as a struggle for survival and a search for salvation in a stark New England setting. Representing Thoreau's greatest test of the goodness of God and nature, the book illustrates the centrality of the subject of death to Thoreau's philosophy of life. Contending that Thoreau's journey to the Cape originated from an intensely personal transcendental impulse connected with his brother's death, this study provides the first in-depth examination of Thoreau's use of the five senses in Cape Cod to reveal both the eccentricities inherent in his relationship with nature and his method of resolving his fears of mortality. Some of the sense impressions in Cape Cod--particularly those that center around human death and those that involve tactile sensations--suggest that Thoreau sometimes tried to master his fears by subconsciously altering painful historical facts or by avoiding the type of sensual contact that aggravated the repressed guilt he suffered from his brother's death. Despite his personal idiosyncrasies, however, Thoreau persisted in his search for truth, and the written record of his journey in Cape Cod documents how his dedication to the transcendental process enabled him to surmount his inner turmoil and reconfirm his intuitive faith. In following this process to spiritual renewal, Thoreau begins with subjective impressions of nature and advances to knowledge of objective realities before ultimately reaching symbolic and universal truth. By analyzing nature's lessons as they evolve from Thoreau's use of his senses, this dissertation shows that Cape Cod, rather than invalidating Thoreau's faith, actually expands his transcendental perspective and so rightfully stands beside Walden as one of the fundamental cornerstones of his canon. In addition, the study proffers new support for previous psychoanalytical interpretations of Thoreau and his writings, reveals heretofore unrecognized historical ...
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Date: December 1999
Creator: Talley, Sharon

What Spins Away

Description: What Spins Away is a novel about a man named Caleb who, in the process, of searching for a brother who has been missing for ten years, discovers that his inability to commit to a job or his primary relationships is both the result of his history with that older missing brother, and his own misconceptions about the meaning of that history. On a formal level, the novel explores the ability of traditional narrative structures to carry postmodern themes. The theme, in this case, is the struggle for a stable identity when there is no stable community against which or in relationship to an identity might be defined.
Date: May 1999
Creator: Irwin, Keith

Why Orville and Wilbur Built an Airplane

Description: This dissertation comprises two sections. The title section collects a volume of the author's original poetry, subdivided into four parts. The concerns of this section are largely aesthetic, although some of the poems involve issues that emerge in the introductory essay. The introductory essay itself looks at slightly over three centuries of poetry in English, and focuses on three representative poems from three distinct periods: the long eighteenth century and the Romantic period in England, and the Post-war period in the United States. John Dryden's translation of Ovid's "Cinyras and Myrrha," John Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," and James Dickey's "The Sheep Child," whatever their stylistic and aesthetic differences may be, all share a concern with taboo. Each of the poems, in its own way, embraces taboo while transgressing societal norms in order to effect a synthesis that merges subject and object in dialectical transcendence. For Dryden, the operative taboo is that placed on incest. In his translation of Ovid, Dryden seizes on the notion of incest as a metaphor for translation itself and views the violation of taboo as fructifying. Keats, in his Nightingale ode, toys with the idea of suicide and reconstructs a world both natural and mythic on the ephemeral foundation of the nightingale's song. Closer to our own time, James Dickey, in "The Sheep Child," envisions a circumstance that forges a union, however transient, between the human and the natural worlds---a union that, in violation of religious taboo, directs gentle parody at the merger of the human world with the divine. Each of the poets employs, in Keats' words, "negative capability" as a tool with which to escape the prescribed order of existence. This ability to "live with uncertainties" beyond the world's conventions fuels the poets' invocation of epiphany, of satori, of the transcendent moment.
Date: August 1999
Creator: Jenkinson, John S.