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Working Whiteness: Performing And Transgressing Cultural Identity Through Work

Description: Early in Richard Wright's Native Son, we see Bigger and his friend Gus “playing white.” Taking on the role of “J. P. Morgan,” the two young black men give orders and act powerful, thus performing their perceived role of whiteness. This scene is more than an ironic comment on the characters' distance from the lifestyle of the J. P. Morgans of the world; their acts of whiteness are a representation of how whiteness is constructed. Such an analysis is similar to my own focus in this dissertation. I argue that whiteness is a culturally constructed identity and that work serves as a performative space for defining and transgressing whiteness. To this end, I examine work and its influence on the performance of middle class and working class whiteness, as well as how those outside the definitions of whiteness attempt to “play white,” as Bigger does. Work enables me to explore the codes of whiteness and how they are performed, understood, and transgressed by providing a locus of cultural performance. Furthermore, by looking at novels written in the early twentieth century, I am able to analyze characters at a historical moment in which work was of great import. With the labor movement at its peak, these novels, particularly those which specifically address socialism, participate in an understanding of work as a performative act more than a means to end. Within the context of this history and using the language of whiteness studies, I look at how gendered whiteness is transgressed and reinforced through the inverted job-roles of the Knapps in Dorothy Canfield's The Home-Maker, how work can cause those who possess the physical attributes of whiteness to transgress this cultural identity, as the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath demonstrate, and how the ascribed identities as non-white for Sara in The ...
Date: May 2002
Creator: Polizzi, Allessandria
Partner: UNT Libraries

How to Factor Loss

Description: How to Factor Loss is a collection of poems and translations prefaced by a critical paper over Robert Hass's “Meditation at Lagunitas.” The preface, “A Sensuous Theory, A Sensuous Poem,” explores how Hass merges the discourses of theory and poetry to create a poem that hangs suspended between a confidence and an anxiety about language. The poems in this thesis are primarily responses to finitude. The first section turns toward an “other” as a strategy of placating desire and of reaching both inward and outward. The second section explores the potential failures of art as a means of touching objects. The final section acknowledges that finitude is the condition of humankind, and it turns toward a more tender language, one that embraces limitations and is filled with something like faith. The collection is followed by an appendix which contains translations of several poems by René Guy Cadou and Georg Trakl.
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Date: May 2002
Creator: Hall, Todd R.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Blackland Prairie

Description: Blackland Prairie contains a scholarly preface, “Cross Timbers,” that discusses the emerging role of place as a narrative agent in contemporary fiction. The preface is followed by six original short stories. “Parts” depicts the growth of a boy's power over his family. “A Movie House to Make Us All Rich” involves the sacrifice of familial values by the son of Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. “The Place on Chenango Street” is about a man who views his world in monetary terms. “The Nine Ideas For A Happier Whole” explores the self-help industry and personal guru age. “All The Stupid Things I Said” is about a long-separated couple meeting for very different reasons. “Flooded Timber” concerns a couple who discover hidden reasons for their relationship's longevity.
Date: May 2002
Creator: Magliocco, Amos
Partner: UNT Libraries

Reflections of Other/Reflections of Self

Description: This Thesis collection contains a critical preface and five stories. The preface, “Reflejos y Reflexiones” (translated: Images and Thoughts), addresses the issues of writing the cultural or gendered Other; these issues include methodology, literary colonialism, a dialogue between works, and creating distance through defamiliarizing the self. “Perennials” is the story of Noemi Tellez, an immigrant to the U.S. who must choose between working and taking care of her family. In “Load Bearing” Luis, the eldest child, faces his family and friends on one of his last days before moving away to college. “La Monarca” deals with Lily's, the youngest daughter, struggle to mediate a place between her friends and her family. In “Reflections in the River,” Arabela, the second youngest, faces the ghost of an unwanted pregnancy and La Llorona. “La Cocina de Su Madre” is the story of Magda, the oldest daughter, and her own teenage girl, Natalia, as they attempt to find themselves in a new town after moving a thousand miles from home.
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Date: August 2002
Creator: Bebout, Lee
Partner: UNT Libraries

The things I left behind

Description: This thesis consists of a preface and twenty-one original short stories. The preface examines the differences between creative nonfiction, autobiography, and memoir. The twenty-one interrelated stories included are autobiographical in nature, in some ways memoirs and in some ways creative nonfiction. The over-all theme of the collection explores one character's journey of self-discovery and transformation.
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Date: August 2002
Creator: Keyes, Laura
Partner: UNT Libraries

Private Affections: Miscegenation and the Literary Imagination in Israel-Palestine

Description: This study politicizes the mixed relationship in Israeli-Palestinian literature. I examine Arab-Jewish and interethnic Jewish intimacy in works by Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, canonical Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua, select anthologized Anglophone and translated Palestinian and Israeli poetry, and Israeli feminist writer Orly Castel-Bloom. I also examine the material cultural discourses issuing from Israel’s textile industry, in which Arabs and Jews interact. Drawing from the methodology of twentieth-century Brazilian miscegenation theorist Gilberto Freyre, I argue that mixed intimacies in the Israeli-Palestinian imaginary represent a desire to restructure a hegemonic public sphere in the same way Freyre’s Brazilian mestizo was meant to rhetorically undermine what he deemed a Western cult of uniformity. This project constitutes a threefold contribution. I offer one of the few postcolonial perspectives on Israeli literature, as it remains underrepresented in the field in comparison to its Palestinian counterparts. I also present the first sustained critique of the hetero relationship and the figure of the hybrid in Israeli-Palestinian literature, especially as I focus on its representation for political options rather than its aesthetic intrigue. Finally, I reexamine and apply Gilberto Freyre in a way that excavates him from critical interment and advocates for his global relevance.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Cohen, Hella Bloom
Partner: UNT Libraries

Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry

Description: This study explores how four medieval poems—the Junius manuscript’s Genesis B and Christ and Satan and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Parliament of Fowls—engage with medieval conjugal rights through their depictions of agentive female protagonists. Although many laws at this time sought to suppress the rights of women, especially those of wives’, both pre- and post-conquest poets illustrate women who act as subjects, exercising legal rights. Medieval canon and common law supported a certain amount of female agency in marriage but was not consistent in its understanding of what that was. By considering the shifts in law from Anglo-Saxon and fourteenth century England in relation to wives’ rights and female consent, my project asserts that the authors of Genesis B and Christ and Satan and the late-medieval poet Chaucer position their heroines to defend legislation that supports female agency in matters of marriage. The Anglo-Saxon authors do so by conceiving of Eve’s role in the Fall and harrowing of hell as similar to the legal role of a forespeca. Through Eve’s mimesis of Satan’s rhetoric, she is able to reveal an alternate way of conceiving of the law as merciful instead of legalistic. Chaucer also engages with a woman’s position in society under the law through his representation of Criseyde’s role in her courtship with Troilus in his epic romance, Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer disrupts his audiences’ expectations by placing Criseyde as the more agentive party in her courtship with Troilus and shows that women might hope to the most authority in marriage by withholding their consent. In his last dream vision, The Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer engages again with the importance of female consent in marriage but takes his interrogation of conjugal rights a step further by imagining an alternate legal system through Nature, a female authority ...
Date: May 2014
Creator: Ward, Jessica D.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Women Becoming: a Feminist Critical Analysis of Mother-Daughter Relationships in Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Kitchen God's Wife"

Description: This analysis of Tan's first two novels reveals that her female characters suffer from the strains critics like Amy Ling say result from the double paradox of filling the roles of mother or daughter as minority women in a white, male society. Recognizing this double paradox offers Tan's characters, and her readers, the opportunity to resolve the conflicts between mothers and daughters in The Joy Luck Club. Using the theories of psychologist Kathie Carlson helps readers understand how the protagonist of The Kitchen God's Wife resolves similar conflicts with her daughter and her own mother by seeking support from a mythic mother-figure, a Goddess of her own making.
Date: December 1993
Creator: Curton, Carman C.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Narcissism in the Suicide and Sexuality of Edna Pontellier

Description: The central figure in The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, is shown in this thesis to pursue a narcissistic flight from existential reality. Following a review of contemporary criticism, Edna Pontellier's narcissism is discussed in connection with her sexuality and suicide. Sources cited range from biographies of Kate Chopin to scholarly articles to the works of modern psychologists. The emphasis throughout the thesis is on the wealth of interpretations that currently exist on The Awakening as well as the potential for further -study and interpretation in the future. Rather than viewing The Awakening as a purely feministic novel, it is stressed that The Awakening can transcend such categorization and be appreciated on many levels.
Date: December 1988
Creator: Lehman, Suzanne M. (Suzanne Marie)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners

Description: In James Joyce criticism, and by implication Irish and modernist studies, the word paralysis has a very insular meaning. The word famously appears in the opening page of Dubliners, in “The Sisters,” which predated the collection’s 1914 publication by ten years, and in a letter to his publisher Grant Richards. The commonplace conception of the word is that it is a metaphor that emanates from the literal fact of the Reverend James Flynn’s physical condition the narrator recalls at the beginning of “The Sisters.” As a metaphor, paralysis has signified two immaterial, or spiritual, states: one individual or psychological and the other collective or social. The assumption is that as a collective and individual signifier, paralysis is the thing from which Ireland needs to be freed. Rather than relying on this received tradition of interpretation and assumptions about the term, I consider that paralysis is a two-sided term. I argue that paralysis is a problem and a solution and that sometimes what appears to be an escape from paralysis merely reinforces its negative manifestation. Paralysis cannot be avoided. Rather, it is something that should be engaged and used to redefine individual and social states.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Heister, Iven Lucas
Partner: UNT Libraries

Fade Away: A Novel

Description: The struggle for survival of an American family revolves around Mitch Wilcox, a relief pitcher for a fictional major league baseball team. Nearing the end of his long career, he must decide whether to retire or to sign a new contract. His dilemma centers on his wife, Nicole, who argues for his retirement; and his only child, Twylight, who has run away from home. The novel traces the final two weeks of a season, during which Mitch's team battles for a pennant and he delays his decision because of events that expose the precarious nature of both his professional and personal identities. During a crucial game, his journey culminates with a choice that directs him toward a new life.
Date: May 1993
Creator: Wilson, Steven L. (Steven Lawrence)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Outer Edges of the Middle Kingdom

Description: Outer Edges of the Middle Kingdom is a narrative by the author about his two years as a teacher in the People's Republic of China. Organized chronologically, the account begins in August, 1985, and ends in June, 1987. The narrator describes meeting students at Tianjin University, Tianjin, China, designing English classes for English majors, daily episodes in the classroom, and interaction with Chinese colleagues. The narrative alternates between life on a university campus and extensive trips the narrator made to various cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Guilin, Harbin, Hohot, and Guangzhou. Also recounted are the narrator's reactions to the student demonstrations of December, 1986, and the resulting anti-bourgeois liberation campaign of January-April, 1987.
Date: December 1987
Creator: Lilly, Charles N.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Writers and Writing of Computer User Documentation: A Social Perspective

Description: This thesis studies the writing of computer user documentation from a social perspective by examining the process of creating computer documentation and the role of documentation writers in the work place. This study consisted of in-depth interviews and observations of four writers of computer user documentation.
Date: August 1991
Creator: Webb, Sheree C.
Partner: UNT Libraries

If I Could Live Next Door for a Day

Description: If I Could Live Next Door for a Day is a collection of short stories with the recurrent theme of taking life for granted. "Climbing the Fence" is a story about a sexually unfulfilled woman who has an unfulfilling affair. In "Chained Melody" a condescending young man learns about life in and out of jail. "An Educated Man" shows the inferiority of one man in the presence of others he considers more important. A deluded school counselor brings a jealous boy and his younger brother together in "Piggie and Pete," while another young man in "The Good Boy" tries to break away from his mother. Finally, a woman learns about herself and the world around her when she wins a large sum of money in "What About Ten-Fold?"
Date: May 1993
Creator: Yoke, Tad M. (Tad Mitchell)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Wild Nights! Wild Nights! The Dickinsons and the Todds: A Screenplay

Description: Emily Dickinson's seclusion is explored in light of her family's strange entanglement with the Todds. Austin Dickinson's affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, and the effect on the lives of Susan Dickinson, Lavinia Dickinson, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, David Todd, and Millicent Todd Bingham, provide a steamy context for the posthumous publication of Emily Dickinson's poetry. The screenplay includes original music (inspired by the dashes and an old hymn) for two poems: "Wild Nightsl Wild Nights!" and "Better - than Music!" Also included are visualizations of many of Dickinson's images, including "circumference," "Eden," "the bee," and "immortality."
Date: August 1988
Creator: Franklin, William Neal
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Natural History

Description: A Natural History is a collection of original poetry written over the past three years. This project represents a period of learning and growth, as well as a concentrated effort to develop an individual writing style and voice grounded in the most enduring poetic values of the past.
Date: May 1994
Creator: Pipes, Todd David
Partner: UNT Libraries

Fairy Tale Elements in Margaret Atwood's Novels: Breaking the Magic Spell

Description: This thesis traces Margaret Atwood's uses of three major elements of fairy tales in her novels. Atwood creates a passive, fairy-tale-like heroine, but not for the purpose of showing how passivity wins the prince as in the traditional tale. Atwood also uses the binary system, which provides a moralistic structure in the fairy tale, to show the necessity of moving beyond its rigidity. In addition, Atwood's novels focus on transformation as the breaking of a spell. However, the spell to be broken arises out of the fairy tales themselves, which create unrealistic expectations. Thus, Atwood not only presents these fairy tale elements in a new setting, but she also changes their significance.
Date: August 1985
Creator: Peterson, Nancy J. (Nancy Jean)
Partner: UNT Libraries

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.
Partner: UNT Libraries

“True Image Pictur’d”: Metaphor, Epistemology, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Description: In this dissertation, I examine the influence of Pyrrhonist skepticism over Shakespeare’s sonnets. Unlike academic skepticism, which begins from a position of doubt, Pyrrhonist skepticism encourages an embrace of multiple perspectives that, according to Sextus Empiricus, leads first to a suspension of judgment and ultimately to a state of tranquility. The Pyrrhonian inflection of Shakespeare’s sonnets accounts for the pleasure and uncertainty they cultivate in readers. By offering readers multiple perspectives on a given issue, such as love or infidelity, Shakespeare’s sonnets demonstrate the instability of information, suggesting that such instability can be a source for pleasure. One essential tool for the uncertainty in the sonnets, I argue, is the figurative language they draw from a variety of fields and discourses. When these metaphors contradict one another, creating fragmented images in the minds of readers, they generate a unique aesthetic experience, which creates meaning that transcends the significance of any of the individual metaphors. In the first two chapters, I identify important contexts for Shakespeare’s sensitivity to the pliability of figurative language: Reformation-era religious tracts and pamphleteers’ debates about the value and function of the theater. In Chapter 3, I examine Shakespeare’s response to the Petrarchan tradition, arguing that he diverges from the sonneteers, who often use figurative language in an attempt to access and communicate stable truths. Shakespeare creates epistemological instability in sonnets both to the young man and to the dark lady, and, as I argue in Chapter 4, this similarity offers readers an opportunity to think beyond traditional divisions between the two sonnet subsequences.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Kellogg, Amanda O.
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Semantic Field Approach to Passive Vocabulary Acquisition for Advanced Second Language Learners

Description: Current ESL instructors and theorists agree that university students of ESL have a need for a large passive vocabulary. This research was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of a semantic field approach to passive vocabulary acquisition in comparison to a traditional approach. A quantitative analysis of the short-term and long-range results of each approach is presented. Future research and teaching implications are discussed. The outcome of the experimentation lends tentative support to a semantic field approach.
Date: August 1986
Creator: Quigley, June R. (June Richfield)
Partner: UNT Libraries

Garrison Keillor and American Literary Traditions

Description: Although Garrison Keillor is perhaps best known as the creator and host of Minnesota Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion (1974-1987), the focus of this study is his literary career. Keillor's literary accomplishments include a successful career as a writer for The New Yorker and two best-selling books about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, entitled Lake Wobegon Days (1985) and Leaving Home (1987). His literary style incorporates elements from several traditions in American literature--the precise, sophisticated "New Yorker style" practiced by writers such as E. B. White and James Thurber; the oral tradition prominent in the works of Mark Twain and the nineteenth-century literary comedians; and the satiric realism associated with the small-town literature of writers such as Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis.
Date: August 1988
Creator: Elston, Suzanne Poteet
Partner: UNT Libraries

The American Reception of Jane Austen's Novels from 1800 to 1900

Description: This thesis considers Jane Austen's reception in America from 1800 to 1900 and concludes that her novels were not generally recognized for the first half of the century. In that period, she and her family adversely affected her fame by seeking her obscurity. From mid century to the publication of J.E. Austen-Leigh's Memoir in 1870, appreciation of Austen grew, partly due to the decline of romanticism, and partly due to the focusing of critical theory for fiction, which caused her novels to be valued more highly. From 1870 to 1900 Austen's novels gained popularity. The critics were divided as to those who admired her art, and those who found her novels to be dull.
Date: December 1987
Creator: Wood, Sarah
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Development of Myth in Post-World-War-II American Novels

Description: Most primitive mythologies recognize that suffering can provide an opportunity for growth, but Western man has developed a mythology in which suffering is considered evil. He conceives of some power in the universe which will oppose evil and abolish it for him; God, and more recently science an, technology, were the hoped-for saviors that would rescue him. Both have been disappointing as saviors, and Western culture seems paralyzed by its confrontation with a future which seems death-filled. The primitive conception of death as that through which one passes in initiatory suffering has been unavailable because the mythologies in which it was framed are outdated. However, some post-World-War-II novels are reflecting a new mythology which recognizes the threat of death as the terrifying face the universe shows during initiation. A few of these novels tap deep psychological sources from which mythical images traditionally come and reflect the necessity of the passage through the hell of initiation without hope of a savior. One of the best of these is Wright Morris's The Field of Vision, in which the Scanlon story is a central statement of the mythological ground ahead. This gripping tale uses the pioneer journey west to tell of the mysterious passage the unconscious can make through the ccntempoorary desert to win the bride of life. It serves as an illuminator and normative guide for evaluating how other novels avoid or confront the initiatory hell. By the Scanlon standard, some contemporary mythology is escapist. Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s Cat's Cradle express the youthful desire to arrive almost automatically at a new age, either with help from a new Christ or through practicing a simplistic morality. Other novels tell of the agony of modern Grail questers who sense that a viable myth is possible, but ...
Date: August 1974
Creator: Hall, Larry Joe
Partner: UNT Libraries

"Fools for Christ": An Examination of the Ministerial Call in Three Novels by William Golding

Description: This thesis examines the ministerial call in three novels by William Golding, specifically The Spire, Darkness Visible, and Rites of Passage. The central character of each novel, a Christian minister, has a vision, or series of visions, which dominates his life. The call and vision(s) of Golding's ministers are examined in light of Jacques Ellul's The Humiliation of the Word, a work examining the differences between the word and the image. The ministerial call, in this thesis, is linked to Ellul's ideas about the word; the vision, in this thesis, is linked to Ellul's ideas of the image. As a result of following their vision(s) rather than their call, the ministers fail, and their lives end in despair and ruin.
Date: December 1987
Creator: Adcox, John Roland
Partner: UNT Libraries