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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

Monsters Like Us: Reexamining “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” Through the Decades

Description: The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiple versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in concert and determine the reason for their continued presence in the American cultural landscape. To do so I will look at the novel and four films and examine the context in which they were created. In reexamining the novel and films, a central theme begins to emerge: interiority. Fear in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" moves from an external to an internal threat. The bodily locus of the monstrous other has been re-purposed and re-projected outward. The internal nature of the monstrous threat is displayed in the narrative’s use of production and distribution, mental health professionals, pseudo-families, and the vilification of sleep. Finally, this paper will examine the studio influence on the various films and their impact on the relative endings.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Norton, Elizabeth Harmon

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.

"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.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Lischau, Carol

"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

"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.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Bohanan, Ronal L.

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.
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Thies, Jaclyn Michele

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

The Palestinian Archipelago and the Construction of Palestinian Identity After Sixty-five Years of Diaspora: the Rebirth of the Nation

Description: This dissertation conceptualizes a Palestinian archipelago based on Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope, and uses the archipelago model to illustrate the situation and development of Palestinian consciousness in diaspora. To gain insight into the personal lives of Palestinians in diaspora, This project highlights several islands of Palestinian identities as represented in the novels: Dancing Arabs, A Compass for the Sunflower, and The Inheritance. The identities of the characters in these works are organized according to the archipelago model, which illustrates how the characters rediscover, repress, or change their identities in order to accommodate life in diaspora. Analysis reveals that a major goal of Palestinian existence in diaspora is the maintenance of an authentic Palestinian identity. Therefore, my description of the characters’ identities and locations in the archipelago model are informed by various scholars and theories of nationalism. Moreover, this dissertation illustrates how different Palestinian identities coalesce into a single national consciousness that has been created and sustained by a collective experience of suffering and thirst for sense of belonging and community among Palestinians. Foremost in the memories of all Palestinians is the memory of the land of Palestine and the dream of national restoration; these are the main uniting factors between Palestinians revealed in my analysis. Furthermore, this project presents an argument that developing a Palestinian exceptionalism as both a response and a solution to the problems Palestine faced in the 20th century has already occurred among diasporic Palestinians as well as those settled in the West Bank. In addition, a significant finding of this dissertation is the generation clash in regarding to the methods of modernization of the West Bank society between the settled Palestinian and those returning from diaspora. Nevertheless, a Palestinian homecoming will require a renegotiation of Palestinian identities in which generation gaps and other disagreements ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Shaheen, Basima

Marvels of the Invisible

Description: This dissertation is comprised of a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface considers the consumed animal body as a metaphor in contemporary American poetry, specifically in the works of Galway Kinnell, Li Young Lee, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly. The consumption of the mute creature allows the poet to identify the human self in the animal other, and serves as a metaphor for our continuity with the natural world. I revise Owen Barfield’s notion of “original participation,” positing that through imaginative participation, the poet and the reader can identify the animal within the self, and thus approach a fuller understanding of both the self and the outside world. We identify the animal other within the human self, and in of this act of relating, we are able to temporarily transgress the boundaries of the individual self to create art that expresses continuity with the outside world. This argument brings about a discussion of text as an act of consumption, and the way and which this can symbolize the ways in which the self is altered through the act of reading. The book-length collection of poems, entitled Marvels of the Invisible, won Tupelo Press’s 2014 Berkshire prize for a first or second book of poetry. The poems look to sources like 17th and 18th century scientific letters, modern and contemporary art, and recent studies in biological phenomena in order to parse the intersection between personal experience and the outside world. The title of the collection points to the conceptual interests of the book: through the lens of scientific phenomena, memory, and personal history, one begins to see that what seems very small (the ant under a microscope, a Russian nesting doll, two people on horseback) are, in fact, individual offerings that articulate one’s place in the cosmos. The ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Molberg, Jenny, 1985-

Vanishing Act

Description: This dissertation is comprised of a collection of poems preceded by a critical preface. The preface reconsiders the value of discontinuous poetic forms and advocates a return to lyric as an antidote to the toxic aspects of what Tony Hoagland terms “the skittery poem of our moment.” I consider poems by Wendy Xu, Kevin Prufer, Sharon Olds, and Stephen Dunn in depth to facilitate a discussion about the value of a more centrist position between the poles of supreme discontinuity and totalizing continuity. Though poets working in discontinuous forms are rightly skeptical of the hierarchies that govern narrative and linear forms, as Czesław Miłosz notes in The Witness of Poetry, “a poet discovers a secret, namely that he can be faithful to real things only by arranging them hierarchically.” In my own poems, I make use of the hierarchies of ordered perception in lyric and narrative forms to faithfully illuminate the collapsed structures of my own family history in the shadow of Detroit. I practice the principles I advocate in the preface, using a continuous form to address fractured realities in a busy, disordered age when poets often seek forms as fragmented as their perceptions. These poems are distinctly American, but because there is no true royalty in America, our great cultural and economic institutions—television, music, film, magazines, and big business—take the place of the castle (the book’s emblem) while Michael Jackson ultimately rises as the commanding dead king whose passing prompts contemplation of the viability of popular culture, family, history, and geography. The fallen structures that litter the work are many: the twin towers, chess rooks, bounce castles, nuclear families, the auto industry. However, the sole structure cohering the whole is that of a lyric voice whose authority is derived through lived experience and presented in rich, continuous poetic ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Pryor, Caitlin

Patrol: Excerpts From a Novel

Description: The dissertation consists of a critical preface and excerpts from the novel Patrol. The preface explores how the novel Patrol utilizes characters that engage with tropes of the Romantic Genius in order to establish their subjectivity while navigating the standardizing mechanisms of twenty-first century information technologies. The preface analyzes how the rise of the organic food movement, the usage of biotech genetic engineering, and the tactics of Big Data-era marketing all inform the critical underpinnings of Patrol, situating the novel in conversation with works of fiction and nonfiction that also explore the interplay of these topics with contemporary American culture. Set primarily in Cincinnati, Ohio, the bifurcated narrative of the novel Patrol enlists the perspectives of both a science-tech father from the Boomer generation, Tim Smith, and his millennial public relations-major daughter, Sarah Smith. Both work in industries that seek to utilize the concept of the individual genius in service of quantification. Tim and Sarah’s interactions with Alexandra Smith, a family member who transitions from female to male over the course of the novel, cause both protagonists to recognize that their own identities are malleable, and this discovery goads each into reexamining their career choices and personal relationships. The plot depicts the outcome of these explorations, culminating in a series of choices for Tim and Sarah that showcase the fundamental change in each character. Unable to simply quantify themselves and those around them, Tim and Sarah instead adopt a more nuanced view of the world that seeks to find a balance between the individualistic conceit of the Romantic genius and the quantifying mandates of technology.
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Date: August 2014
Creator: Stringer, Hillary

Through an Open Window

Description: The poems in this collection are elegiac; celebrations of losses and failures, tributes to the daily doldrums that are at the center of human experience. They threaten to expose the uncertainty that exists and refuses to exist in our everyday lives. They explore the otherness associated with the individual and often turn to the universal formulas of music and physics to make order of the world around them. Often times the Speaker finds that the seeming chaos manifests within her already orderly life, the daily routines of work and family. Poetic magic, so to speak, weds this ordered chaos to the laws of nature and its routines, especially birds, which makes a recurrent appearance throughout the manuscript.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Bingham, Christie

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

Searching for a Savior

Description: This collection of essays includes a preference that investigates the role and importance of setting and character in a nonfiction narrative. The preface assesses the writings of four great authors, examining how each author use setting and characterization to further the purpose of their story. This collection focuses on four different issues that the author has wrestled with for two decades. While “Desperado” is an investigation into the problems within her own family, “Being Black Me” highlights the authors struggle against the racial inequality her hometown. “Voices In The Dark”, the author analyze how the abuse she suffered as a child has influenced her life and contributed to a drinking problem that is explored in a later essay “Alors On Danse”.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Batch, Julia

Down and Out: a Novel

Description: A creative dissertation consisting of two parts: a novel and a critical preface. The critical preface, titled “Novel without Falsehood” deals directly with David Shields’s Reality Hunger, touching on issues of reality as it pertains to truth, writing, fiction, and contemporary culture. The novel is entitled Down and Out and follows the fortunes of a small town in Arkansas before, during, and after its sole source of employment ceases to exist.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Briseño, J. Andrew

The Girl Disappeared: the Prostitute of La Isla De Santa Flora

Description: The novella, The Girl Disappeared, focuses on the life of Emalia, a street kid from Mexico. She is taken from the streets of Veracruz and forced into a life of prostitution on the fictitious island of La Isla de Santa Flora. The primary conflict that drives the action of the story is her pending choice between escaping her life of slavery and saving another young woman who is on the verge of being forced into a life of prostitution as well. The novella, as a literary piece, dwells on the question of character agency and explores the multilayered nature of code switching. Language for these women becomes a tool in their struggle against their captives and a means of self-preservation, or sanctuary, as they use their growing bilingualism to foment a limited agency, to act in their own defense.
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Date: May 2013
Creator: Winston, Michael

"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

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.
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Date: May 2016
Creator: Foster, Natalie