This page lists the most recent ten years of PhD dissertations, their authors and committee chairs, and a short abstract for the project. MFA dissertations will be added as they become available. The title and author of dissertations (and MA theses for degrees conferred under thesis requirements) completed more than ten years ago will be made available here at a later date.
"I Heard the Same Thing Once Before": Intertextuality in Selected Works of Evelyn Waugh
Janelle Lynn Ortega, American Literary Studies
Stephen Benz, Chair
Through the lens of structural intertextuality, this dissertation reveals the significance of literary allusion in some of Evelyn Waugh’s works. It investigates intertextual significance and intent that has, heretofore, been largely bypassed. This study tracks Waugh’s intertextual instances from his earliest novels through his short stories to one of his final works. Waugh’s intertextuality unearths a hope for not only literary culture but also the world at large.
A study of Waugh’s intertextuality uncovers an overarching theme of hope rooted in literary culture. This dissertation begins with an explanation of intertextual theory and the words and phrases pivotal to a cohesive understanding of these findings. It then proceeds through the works chronologically. Chapter One explores the use of Dante and Carroll in the novel Vile Bodies by explaining a deterioration of both culture and humanity while providing a remedy that is literature. Then Chapter Two’s discussion of Malory’s text within Handful of Dust rejects the initial critical reaction of associating pessimism and fatalism with the text. Chapter Three’s analysis of “Out of Depth” and Love Among the Ruins uncovers an intertextual analysis concerning Huxley, Shakespeare and earlier works of Waugh himself that purports the importance of reviving literary culture and reclaiming freewill. Chapter Four recognizes that Waugh’s use of T.S. Eliot in Brideshead Revisited begins to confirm the essentiality of literature for the well-being or the individual as well as the world. The dissertation culminates in Chapter Five with The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold and its emphasis on the personal application of intertext.
Ultimately this dissertation reveals that by way of intertext Evelyn Waugh subtly challenges his readers to improve themselves by looking beyond their own experiences. The deeper he explores the art of intertext the more his texts reveal the troubles of the current age. At the same time, however, as this dissertation demonstrates, his use of intertext not only diagnoses the tribulations facing the modern world but also provides a cure in the form of a reviving literary culture.
"The Distemper of a Gentleman": Grotesque Visual and Literary Depcitions of Gout in Great Britain 1744-1826
Calinda Shely, British and Irish Literary Studies
Gail Houston and Carolyn Woodward, Chairs
In this dissertation I explore the way in which visual and literary representations of gout in British literature and popular culture during the period 1744-1826 evince anxieties regarding over-consumption, particularly in relation to imperial expansion. I argue that the prevalence of gout in graphic satire indicates a common cultural understanding and perception of upper-class over-consumption of food, alcohol, material goods, and sex that threatens the health of the entire British body politic. These depictions provide a way through which the interests of those outside of the ruling classes can begin to develop a sense of community and subtly articulate a voice calling for an alteration or revision of the unwritten constitution of the nation. In chapters one through three I demonstrate the ways in which examples of gout in graphic satire evidence widespread dissatisfaction with upper-class over-consumption as it affects the nation’s political, economic, and social systems. In chapter four I examine representations of gouty men of the aristocracy and upper gentry in Sarah Fielding’s The Countess of Dellwyn and Tobias Smollett’s The Adventures of Roderick Random; I contend that Fielding and Smollett offer rather more radical and nuanced depictions of this stock figure than those common within the graphic satire of the era. These authors’ representations thus offer greater possibilities for revision of the unwritten constitution structuring the nation and its institutions. In chapter five I argue that Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa depicts Mr. Harlowe as a nouveau riche character representative of the changing physiognomy of the upper classes; his over-consumption demonstrates the contagious nature of immoderation and the tragic effects that it has upon women, who are treated as commodities used to enable further aggregation and aggrandizement.
"The Bellows / of Experience": The Modernist Love Poem and Its Legacy
Stephanie Spong, American Literary Studies, British and Irish Literary Studies
Matthew Hofer, Chair
The vein of experimental love poetry examined in this project takes advantage of the friction generated by charging both form and content with innovation. The troubled relationship between sex and power is knit directly into the long and dynamic history of love poetry, but there has yet to be a published monograph on the modernist love poem and its implications for literary history. This dissertation fills a major gap in scholarship and speaks to the broader social concerns addressed by public discourse on sex, sexuality, and eros. The body of modernist love poetry includes allusions to traditional love poetry—a tradition in lyric extending from the earliest written poems and culminating in nineteenth-century sentimentality—as well as explicit erotic content, satire, polemic, violence, and anxiety. It is not neatly bounded by nation, gender, race, or aesthetic approach, but nonetheless, this project examines the consistent presence and achievement of experimental Anglophone poets working with the genre. My dissertation begins with a series of case studies examining the work of Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Langston Hughes to elucidate love poetry in its modernist form. The project establishes the place innovative modernist love poetry holds in literary history, and casts forward with two chapters, one on Anne Sexton and Robert Creeley, and another on Harryette Mullen and Bruce Andrews, to illustrate how mid-century and contemporary poets have continued to find new ways of re-imagining the genre.
Siete Lenguas: The Rhetorical History of Dolores Huerta and the Rise of Chicana Rhetoric
Christine Beagle, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
This dissertation is first an historical trajectory of Chicana Rhetoric in the American polis and then a perspectival analysis of three key texts from Chicana labor right’s activist and vice president of the United Farm Workers Union Dolores Huerta. The trajectory establishes an efficacious legacy of Chicana Rhetoric and the analyses of Huerta’s rhetoric explore what Chicana Rhetoric is and is not through the lens of media, scholarly, and personal rendition. I argue throughout that Chicana Rhetoric is representative of current intersections in social, political, racial, and gender rhetorics and Dolores Huerta is the embodiment of these intersections. The implications of this speak to the immediate need for Rhetoric and Composition to honor Chicana rhetors and scholars in our canonical fields of study.
God's Chosen: The Cults of Virgin Martyrs in Anglo-Saxon England
Colleen Dunn, Medieval Studies
Jonathan Davis-Secord and Helen Damico, Chairs
At the center of Anglo-Saxon life was a thriving religious culture, which—in one of its most vibrant forms—was expressed in the cult of saints. The virgin martyr became one of the most popular forms of sanctity, yet with hundreds of possible martyrs who could have been venerated, the question becomes which ones ultimately thrived in Anglo-Saxon England and why? Moreover, the very need for these two questions reveals a troubling fact: when writing about female virgin martyrs, the hagiographers never chose a native Anglo-Saxon woman as the focus of their passiones. In exploring both the reasons for and the implications of the choice made by these hagiographers to forgo local female virgin martyrs in favor of foreign models, I particularly investigate the appeal of Saint Juliana of Nicomedia and St. Margaret of Antioch, as they represent not only two of the earliest models of the virgin martyr brought to England, but also two of the models that would survive to the end of the Anglo-Saxon era and continue on into the Anglo-Norman one. The purpose of this dissertation is thus two-fold: firstly, to demonstrate that viable options existed for Anglo-Saxon female martyrs and were intentionally ignored by those who had the authority to promote their cults; and, secondly, to explore the specific appeal the Mediterranean female martyrs held for Anglo-Saxons.
"The Fact of God": Form and Belief in British Modernist Poetry
Annarose Fitzgerald, British and Irish Literary Studies
Matthew Hofer, Chair
My dissertation analyzes the relationship between the concept of metaphysical belief and the poetic innovations enlisted to articulate this belief in the works of British modernist poets W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy, T.S. Eliot, Basil Bunting, Philip Larkin, and Thom Gunn. Moving from Celtic mythos to Buddhist philosophy, Anglo-Catholic prayer to ancient Greek burial rites, I argue that spirituality and poetic experimentation were reciprocal influences: modernist experimentations in poetic form had a direct impact on how poets represented and articulated metaphysical beliefs and practices, and these metaphysical concepts themselves significantly affected these poets’ development of their craft, prompting consideration of what makes poetry itself believable for modern readers.
While several studies analyze the religious and spiritual interests of modernist writers, demonstrating that secularization does not accurately categorize English literature of the early twentieth century, my project moves beyond proving that modernists were believers and instead employs belief as an active critical term for literary analysis. Each chapter examines how a particular British modernist poet employs belief as a condition that allows poetic form and metaphysical concepts to intersect in productive ways. Rather than merely dismissing or advocating for belief in certain metaphysical concepts, these poets scrutinize, re-conceptualize, and re-imagine poetic forms, spiritual ideologies, and religious structures so as to render belief in the metaphysical, and in poetry as a conduit for the metaphysical, to become relevant and necessary possibilities in the twentieth century.
Shifting Dreams: Intersections of the Rhetorical Imagination of U.S. Immigration Policy and the Writing Practices of Dreamers
Genevieve Garcia de Mueller, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
This dissertation examines the intersections between the rhetoric of the DREAM Act and the discourse of the migrant activists, specifically DREAMers, affected by the Act’s language. Through a hermeneutic approach combining a rhetorical, genre, and critical discourse analysis, I examine how the DREAMers respond to marginalizing textual features of the Act. DREAMers appropriate genres and rhetorical moves of the dominant discourse to combat four problem features of the DREAM Act, namely the criminalizing nature, the erasure of the affected subjects (migrants), the taking away of agency from the affected subjects (migrants), and the propagation of xenophobic racism.
Often fraught with limiting language, the DREAM Act is at once the most comprehensive progressive immigration legislation and a heavily weighted document that further marginalizes migrants through those four problem areas. I employ various frameworks to examine the intersections between the discriminatory rhetoric of the DREAM Act and the discourse of DREAMers affected by the Act’s language. Through a polyvocalic approach combining a rhetorical, genre, and critical discourse analysis, I examine how DREAMers respond to marginalizing textual features of the proposed act, the counter genres DREAMers produce, and the metadiscourse surrounding those genres.
I locate the migrant activist as the foremost expert on immigration policy and as the agent of discursive change. Because the genre-specific voice and style of legislative texts, such as the DREAM Act, construct racial and ethnic identities and reify problematic ideologies, a deep reading of the language used in federal policies can elucidate the manner in which DREAMers respond to how undocumented persons are positioned as potential citizens and students, or how policy shapes activism and in turn how activism shapes policy.
This dissertation informs the way compositionists teach writing to undocumented, multilingual writers, particularly Latina/o student populations whose issues are most reflected in the activism of the DREAMers. I argue for a critical pedagogy based on migrant activist genres and in the Writing Across Communities (WAC2) model that provides ways for undocumented students to advocate for themselves in writing at their institutions and in their communities. Finally, I call for a shift in Writing Program Administration (WPA) with a focus on issues of race and ethnicity in WPA work. While avoiding the assimilationist tendencies of this appropriation, by using these genres and rhetorical moves as the basis for programmatic shifts, pedagogy, and WAC2 initiatives, the migrant activist WPA may create changes in composition programs to best serve migrant undocumented students and to focus the composition classroom centered on the ideals of translingual, transculturalism, and transnational citizenship.
Getting on the Same Page: The Hermeneutics of Peer Feedback in Composition Classrooms
Mellissa Huffman, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
This dissertation reconceptualizes print-based and virtual peer feedback (peer review, peer editing, and peer response) within composition classrooms as hermeneutic or interpretive acts. Grounding peer feedback within philosophical hermeneutics explains why empirical research and anecdotal evidence illustrate contradictions regarding peer feedback’s benefits to students. Students’ interpretations of what is happening/supposed to happen within peer feedback contexts impacts their performances in these contexts, and these interpretations occur through complex interplays of rhetorical, cultural, linguistic, and contextual interpretive fields. Enacting a hermeneutic pedagogy, which consists of engaging students in a series of scaffolded preparatory and reflective activities, collaborating with students in determining and adapting peer feedback protocol, and tailoring peer feedback protocol and mode to the classroom context, better accounts for the complex frames of reference students use to interpret and participate in peer feedback and allows students greater agency in enacting it. The dissertation culminates with practical guides for adopting and adapting a hermeneutic peer feedback pedagogy in both mainstream and second-language writing courses conducted in face-to-face and virtual classroom settings.
Memory, History, and Forgetting in the Sandra Allen Collection of Papers on Mormonism: A Feminist Rhetorical Historiography of Institutional Intervention in the Equal Rights Amendment
Valerie Kinsey, Rhetoric and Writing
Susan Romano and Chuck Paine, Chairs
This dissertation leverages archival theory, public memory theory, feminist historiography, and rhetorical theory to argue that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reinterpreted the Mormon past to engender identification and foster political action during the Equal Rights Amendment ratification period (1976-1981). Chapter One provides readers with an orientation to the Sandra Allen Collection of Papers on Mormonism and argues that its creator, Sandra Allen, marshaled her understanding of archiving, history writing, and institutional archives to make her history public. Chapter Two: On Memory uses theories of public memory to explain why the Mormon Church built the Nauvoo Monument to Women (MTW). The chapter posits that public monuments are pedagogical: They argue in the epideictic register for what should be by praising a past. By providing an explanation of the historical context in which the MTW was erected, the chapter demonstrates that the Mormon Church sought to assuage feelings of resentment among women. Its statues, physical location, and dedication suggest the MTW is less a representation honoring the past than a means of representing women’s ideally embodied roles. Chapter Three: On History argues that Mormons draw from and build upon their history as means of self-identification. Church leaders foster this identification by calling upon members to contribute to history by producing personal journals, books of remembrance, and genealogies. The process of creating home archives engenders an ongoing practice of self-discipline, wherein members perform Mormon ethe. Chapter Four: On Forgetting examines the discourses that brought about and ultimately suppressed a “Golden Age” of Mormon history. By offering a history of Mormon historiography, the chapter argues that the Church silenced professional historians. At the same time, the family history methodology the Church forwarded conceals structural inequality. The chapter asserts that the Mormon Church silenced counter-memories to prevent them from gaining purchase among stakeholders. After summarizing the major arguments presented, the dissertation’s conclusion offers heuristic derived from the Roman god, Janus, as a tool for imaginative speculation on theorizing resistance to institutional rhetorics.
The Wilderness in Medieval English Literature: Genre, Audience and Society
Lisa Myers, Medieval Studies
Anita Obermeier, Chair
This dissertation focuses on the disjunction between the actual environmental conditions of medieval England and the depiction of the wilderness in the literature of the time period from the Anglo-Saxon conversion to the close of the Middle Ages. Using environmental history to identify the moments of slippage between fact and fiction, this project examines the ideology behind the representations of the wilderness in literature and the relationship of these representations to social practices and cultural norms as well as genre and targeted audience. The first chapter argues that the depiction of early Anglo-Saxon saints and their relationships to the wilderness of England helped to construct a Christian countryside for the newly converted Anglo-Saxons. The next chapter asserts that the epic Beowulf employs wilderness settings in order to address Anglo-Saxon anxiety regarding the pagan past of their ancestors on the Continent. The third chapter examines an eclectic group of English histories written after the Norman Invasion, showing that their use of the landscape of England subverts the Norman master-narrative of political and social superiority. The final chapter of this study examines the earliest Middle English Robin Hood poems, arguing that they represent the voice of the English peasant and manifest a desire to regain control of the natural places of England that had been appropriated by the upper classes of the feudal structure. Overall, this project asserts that the literary images of the natural world in the medieval literature of England are a complicated synthesis of real environmental conditions and the ideology espoused by each particular genre and are, therefore, intimately tied to time and place.
Rulers and the Wolf: Archbishop Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon Kings, and the Problems of His Present
Nicholas Schwartz, Medieval Studies
Jonathan Davis-Secord, Chair
Until now, Wulfstan, Archbishop of York’s relationship to and view of Anglo-Saxon kingship has never been comprehensively examined. The lack of attention this topic has received is a glaring omission in Wulfstan scholarship. Wulfstan worked under two kings, Æthelred and Cnut, and he had an interest in Edgar that has long been recognized. In response to Wulfstan’s career under these kings and his interest in Edgar, scholars have been far too ready to assume that the archbishop’s view of kingship was straightforward. It has too long been taken for granted that Wulfstan operated under Cnut in the same manner as his did under Æthelred, as if his political viewpoint never changed, for example. Moreover, Alfred and Edgar—both of whom had been vetted by history—left a considerable number of texts which Wulfstan mined extensively for material applicable to the kingdom’s situation when he was active. His interaction with these earlier kings reveals that early in Wulfstan’s career the archbishop found the position of king to be of the utmost importance to the governance and stability of the kingdom. The reigns of Æthelred and Cnut witnessed Wulfstan’s application of his views on kingship and what the kingdom needed generally in order to improve, both of which changed over the course of his career. Under Æthelred, Wulfstan focused on admonishing and instructing the Anglo-Saxon laity, but after he drafted V Æthelred, Wulfstan’s texts were aimed at the king, himself, and his witan. They stressed both the essentiality of law and order and the importance of the king to society as a whole. His texts from Cnut’s reign, however, reveal that it is not primarily the king that interested Wulfstan during these years, but, rather, the administration of the kingdom in general. In them, the position of king was actually deemphasized.
The Gothic Presence of Poland in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Jill Noel Walker Gonzalez, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
The references to Poland in United States print culture indicate that Poland is a significant presence in the nineteenth-century literary imagination. Though often idealized, Poland emerges as a gothic presence registering anxieties about culture, imperialism, slavery, the Other, economic ruin, and identity. Using Roland Barthes’ theory of cultural code, this dissertation looks to nineteenth-century United States newspapers to consider American readers’ cultural knowledge about Poland. The coded history of revolution beneath each reference to Poland indicates that Polish revolution is the mechanism that reveals American anxieties about instability, imperialism, class inequalities, and violence—all of which put pressure on America’s mythic history of revolution, freedom, and equality as they’re expressed in literature. In Charles Brockden Brown’s “Somnambulism: A Fragment” (1805), the reference to Silesia and allusion to Poland is code for Poland’s 1794 revolution against partitioning powers Austria, Prussia, and Russia. The allusion registers fears of outside threats to the sovereignty of the young, vulnerable United States. As code for the major 1830-31 revolution against partitioning powers, the Polish character in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845) indicates American anxieties about the nation turning into an imperialistic aggressor similar to the nations that partitioned Poland because of its aggressive actions toward Mexico. For a nation struggling with its own imperialistic tendencies and increasingly quarreling over slavery, references to Poland in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick—code for the 1846 Polish revolution—reveal further anxieties about imperialism and human servitude. In the mid-nineteenth century, when the U.S. struggled with nativist attitudes toward Catholics and immigrants, Polish characters in E. D. E. N. Southworth’s The Missing Bride (1855) and Louisa May Alcott’s “The Baron’s Gloves” (1868) point to Poland’s final nineteenth-century rebellions and betray anxieties about the threat and/or taint of the Polish Catholic immigrant Other. Finally, in Anthony Walton White Evans’s 1883 biography, Memoir of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the financially broke and physically broken Thaddeus Kosciuszko, revolutionary hero of both Poland and America, registers concerns about economic ruin and psychological fragmentation that following crashes like that of the Panic of 1873.
The Early-Modernization of the Classical Muse
Bruce Carroll, British and Irish Literary Studies
Lorenzo Garcia, Jr., Chair
The Early-Modernization of the Classical Muse juxtaposes ancient and Renaissance uses of the Muse to retrieve her from the status of mere literary convention. I draw on Hans Blumenberg's ‘reoccupation' (Umbesetzung) thesis, which locates in philosophy concerns originally raised in myth, to argue that the poet's relationship with his Muse, as the perceived source of his art form, was always somehow ontological (ontology: the theory of human being). In the pre-literate, pre-philosophical invocations of archaic figures like Homer and Hesiod, I locate the ‘ontological stirrings' in which the poet identifies his self through his at times troublesome and combative dependence on the Muse. By early modernity, a philosophical era, the classical Muse's appearances figure radical and imminently modern shifts in a still-persistent essentialist ontology. Here poets assert a re-orientation to the human person, a new ontology centered not on humanity's quondam dependence on nature, the deified genetrix overseeing all sublunary production (including poetry), but on an independent human production, so that techne, or art, becomes not only the prime factor in the recognition of human being but also the vehicle for its re-orientation. A chief contribution of this dissertation is its identification of an ontological poetics. Impossible outside of poetic language, this poetics employs inversions of conceit and discontinuous rhetorical structures to raze the vertical scales that placed causes (like nature or the Muse) over their effects (the poet and poetry). Ontological poetics forwards instead a horizontal ontology based on lateral connections among the poet-speaker, his beloved poetic subject, and the poem itself. A critical novelty of this project is that unlike in any of Blumenberg's examples of reoccupation, these analyses must consider the return of a myth within the era of philosophy. Because the appearances of the Muse in early modern poetry embody the basic ontological issues that the era of philosophy originally inherited from her, her early modern situation acts as an acid test for Blumenberg's thesis.
A Model Citizen: Ethos, Conservation, and the Rhetorical Construction of Aldo Leopold
Dan Cryer, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Hall Kells, Chair
This dissertation explores the changing, multifaceted ethos of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), one of the twentieth century’s most versatile environmental communicators. Drawing on scholarship in environmental rhetoric, rhetorical genre theory, citizenship theory and ecofeminism, I argue that throughout his career Leopold offered evolving rhetorical versions of himself as ideals of ecological behavior to be emulated by his readers. The chapters analyze Leopold’s ethos as it was constructed in his early-career writings in the New Mexico Game Protective Association Pine Cone, a wildlife protection broadsheet; in the Report on a Game Survey of the North Central States, his first book; in reports and articles he wrote during the Wisconsin deer irruption debates of the early 1940s; in the essays of A Sand County Almanac, his best known work; and in its current manifestation on the property of the Aldo Leopold Foundation in central Wisconsin. By focusing on these key rhetorical moments in Leopold’s ethos formation, this study reveals the sources from which his ethos arose, including nineteenth and early-twentieth century conservation movements and scientific literature, and the specific environmental crises to which he responded. In revealing, on one hand, the rhetorical strategies that excluded or alienated key stakeholders in the issues on which he wrote, and, on the other, his remarkable ability to connect with a range of audiences in a variety of genres, this study shows that Leopold can serve as both a model and cautionary tale for environmental communication in our own time.
Beyond the Lore: A Research-Based Case for Asynchronous Online Writing Tutoring
Kathryn Denton, Rhetoric and Writing
Chuck Paine, Chair
Asynchronous online tutoring is a highly contested form of writing tutoring. Critics of asynchronous online tutoring argue that it is ineffective, running contrary to traditional notions of what writing tutoring should look like and how it should be practiced. Supporters of asynchronous online tutoring advocate for its inclusion in the tutoring canon, suggesting that it should be one of many formats available to students. Noticeably absent from this ongoing debate is a grounding in research, as there are few current contributions to this field of research, with the exception of works, most notably, Beth Hewett’s The Online Writing Conference. This project responds to the current climate surrounding asynchronous online tutoring interactions, offering a research-based exploration of asynchronous online writing tutoring. This work represents a move away from the question “Is asynchronous online tutoring effective?” and towards “What are some of the ways tutors and students are engaging in effective asynchronous tutoring interactions?” “What support can we provide to promote effective asynchronous tutoring interactions?” and “How can we present asynchronous online tutoring to students in such a way that they can decide whether it works for them?” Chapter one offers the historical context of the debate on asynchronous online tutoring and offers an overview of the works that have been published to date. Chapter two lays out the qualitative research design created to explore the phenomenon of asynchronous online writing tutoring. Chapter three explores the research findings, arguing that the findings counter critiques of asynchronous online tutoring as ineffective and disengaging on the part of tutor and student alike. Chapter four concludes by looking to future possibilities for how we can further enhance our understanding of asynchronous online writing tutoring through research, how we can begin to understand best practices for asynchronous online tutors, and how we can support tutor development through training. Finally, drawing on the concept of directed self-placement, I advocate for a model of self-evaluation that empowers students to choose the tutoring format that works best for that individual student, given that student’s needs.
Case Not Closed: Whiteness and the Rhetorical Genres of Freedom Summer
Lindsey Ives, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Hall Kells, Chair
This dissertation examines the role of whiteness and its relationship to identification in rhetorical representations of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Texts examined at length include recruitment materials, media coverage, pamphlets, and letters produced during the project, as well as retrospective representations of Freedom Summer in popular films and literature. Drawing upon Walter Beale’s pragmatic theory of rhetoric and Krista Ratcliffe’s concept of rhetorical listening, it analyzes five perspectives on the hundreds of volunteers, most of whom were white college students, who traveled to black communities across Mississippi that summer in order to register voters, teach in Freedom Schools, work in community centers, and engage in other special projects. Analyzing the perspectives of white volunteers, black activists, white southerners, national media, and history, this dissertation reveals that the volunteers are variously constructed as admiring outsiders, neo-abolitionists, pseudo-scientists, community members, critical pedagogues, cherished children of the privileged classes, communist invaders, soldiers, missionaries, inconsequential extras, and catalysts for critical reflection. It concludes by suggesting ways in which contemporary teachers of rhetoric and composition might use selected Freedom Summer texts in the classroom in order to generate conversations about topics such as community engagement, interracial advocacy, and college students’ writerly agency.
Out of Time: Temporal Colonization and the Writing of Mexican American Subjectivity
Erin Murrah-Mandril, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
This dissertation studies the ways that Mexican Americans experienced time as a colonizing force in the US Southwest between 1848 and 1940. I argue that Mexican American writing of this period exposes oppressive iterations of time within US modernity and often points toward possibilities of decolonizing time. The project focuses on political and economic constructions of US progress, which denied Mexican Americans presence within US temporal imaginings. My analysis moves from material to ideological temporal constructions as I analyze forms of time concerning wage labor, railroad operations, investment capitalism, judicial processes, congressional proceedings, Manifest Destiny, commodity fetishism, intellectual production, historical narrative, and sociological discourse. I historically situate Mexican American experiences of US time through María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s depiction of capitalist forms of time in The Squatter and the Don and Miguel Antonio Otero’s dependence on the rhetoric of progress in his three-volume autobiography. They expose the way US forms of time like Manifest Destiny, free market capitalism and judicial proceedings depend upon the production of underdevelopment and inequity while championing the virtues of progress and development. The first two chapters also position the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a source of colonized time because it initiated a system of retroactive law and placed former Mexican citizens in a liminal “mean time” of delayed political enfranchisement in order to dispossess Mexican Americans of their land and social standing. I go on to argue that Mexican American literature moves differentially across multiple forms of time to critique temporal domination by drawing on the scholarship of Chela Sandoval and Mikhail Bakhtin in my analysis of Jovita González and Margaret Eimer’s Caballero. Throughout the dissertation, I explore the ways that literary recovery of Mexican American texts both participates in and rejects dominant forms of linear progressive time. The final chapter engages this issue through a close analysis of Adina De Zavala’s History and Legends of the Alamo as a model for decolonizing time through practices of recovery and archivization that engage Derridian specters through intertextual dialogue with the past.
Remapping the U.S. "Southwest": Early Mexican American Literature and the Production of Transnational Counterspaces, 1885-1958
Diana Noreen Rivera, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
This dissertation brings to light a legacy of Mexican American spatial resilience that troubles Anglo-centric constructions of the Southwest, its history, and cultural formation as a byproduct of westward expansionism. This project argues that early Mexican American writers offer an alternative paradigm of transnationalism for understanding the literature, culture, and geography of the U.S. Southwest as it has been imagined in Anglo American cultural production about the region. For early Mexican American writers, the Southwest was not a quaint literary region but a space of historic transnational zones of contact, commerce, and cultural geography where they maintained degrees of agency. I examine the writings of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Fray Angélico Chávez, Federico Ronstadt, and Américo Paredes for their "transnational counterspaces." I use this term, which draws from spatial theories by Henri Lefebvre and Edward Soja, to describe their vocalizations of the Southwest produced in the face of their respective Anglo counterparts such as Willa Cather and other members of the Santa Fe and Taos writers colonies, Walter Noble Burns, J. Frank Dobie, and Walter Prescott Webb. I take an interdisciplinary approach dialoging with Chicano/a, borderlands, and American literary studies within a historical framework to chart how early Mexican American writings reclaim the region by mapping transnational heritages belonging to Mexican American and Chicano/a communities.
The Literacies of Literary Texts: Rhetorical Bridges between English Studies Disciplines and First-Year Writers
Genesea Carter, British and Irish Literary Studies, Rhetoric and Writing
Chuck Paine, Chair
The Literacies of Literary Texts: Rhetorical Bridges Between English Studies Disciplines and First-Year Writers seeks to blend rhetoric, composition, and literary discourses to illustrate how the subfields may engage in interdisciplinary collaboration and conversation. These conversations are important. For English studies to remain relevant in an increasingly business-minded model of higher education, departments must reassess their approaches and methods. As one way to reimagine English studies, I advocate for English studies’ return to rhetoric. In an increasingly complex world, Departments of English can become indispensible by using rhetoric to prepare their students for to rhetorically adapt to diverse discourse communities. Rhetoric and composition faculty can use literary characters as examples of rhetorical awareness and discourse community membership; such literary examples may prove useful if rhetoric and composition faculty hope to create buy in among their literature and creative writing colleagues. In order to show how literary characters can be presented as examples, I read Bleak House, Dracula, and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There as illustrative texts demonstrating how community membership depends on the rhetorical knowledge of literacy practices. Moving beyond the analytical, I apply my readings of Bleak House, Dracula, and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There to the first-year composition classroom. The characters of Jo, Dracula, and Alice illustrate the struggle between privileged and subordinate literacies, insider and outsider practices, and this praxis serves two purposes: (1) To help rhetoric and composition faculty see how the literacies of literary texts can be used to communicate rhetorical awareness, and (2) how literary texts can help first-year students understand the relationship between discourse community membership and rhetorical knowledge. This project’s two pronged purpose aims to foster interdisciplinarity between rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing faculty as well as envision new ways to best prepare students for the literacies they will encounter as professionals, academics, and citizens.
A Hermeneutic Composition Pedagogy: The Student as Self, Citizen, and Writer in Dewey, Arendt, and Ricoeur
Gregory Haley, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
This dissertation is primarily concerned with describing a hermeneutic theory of composition pedagogy for the purpose of developing socially engaged, self-reflective, and critically conscious citizens of a democracy. This work examines the intersection of higher education and civic responsibility that has been the foundational motive of academics since the first schools were opened by Isocrates and Plato. The question now, as it has been since the days of Plato, is how to educate new citizens to become informed, engaged critics of their environments for the purpose of maintaining a healthy self governance and preserving the democratic ideals of equality, justice, and freedom. The foundational theorists for this work are John Dewey, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Ricoeur. Their hermeneutic understanding of human learning development and motivation towards action are crucial for understanding how to help students become self-reflective, socially engaged members of a free society. While each of these theorists and their views on educational pedagogies have been studied in depth, there has not been a study that examines the common heuristic of these three philosophers and the implications of a combined theory of hermeneutics for composition pedagogy.
Private Matters: The Place of Privacy in English Legal Records, Romances, and Letters, 1300-1500
Christine Kozikowski, Medieval Studies
Anita Obermeier, Chair
As a result of the growth of cities and the rise of a merchant class in later medieval England, the desire for privacy began to emerge alongside an increase in personal consciousness. In my dissertation, I examine the place of privacy in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England by juxtaposing elements of the private such as access, intimacy, and withdrawal in historical documents such as court records and marriage customs against canonical literature including, but not only, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Malory’s Le Morte Darthur. My study explains the dynamics between privacy and place in urban property, romance beds, marriage, and widowhood by utilizing a theoretical framework developed by modern geographers; expanding on their ideas, I consider how the locative, the material, and the social influenced people’s notions of privacy, and how the literature reflects those ideals. In these narratives, the way that people react to expectations of place, both geographical and social, simultaneously suggests a self-conscious political positioning and a rejection of the dominant ideology that determined proper behavior. In my research, I put court records, romances, and letters in conversation with one another to analyze an unexplored discourse on medieval privacy. My dissertation reshapes our understanding of medieval place, space, and identity and redefines the historical narrative by identifying privacy and individuality as cultural elements of the late Middle Ages.
Narratives of Hostility and Survivance in Multiethnic American Literature, 1850-1903
Jennifer Nader, American Literary Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
In Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, Mary Louise Pratt coined the term "contact zones," which she defined as "social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination-like colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today" (4). The United States of America has a dismal history of racially violent encounters between Anglos and indigenous populations, with other settlers, and those who immigrated there. Many of America’s practices, policies, and historical events provide evidence of acts spurred by racism against non-Anglo groups, but evidence of this also exists throughout US media sources. Specifically, from the middle of the nineteenth century to its close, the majority of mass print media written by and controlled by the Anglo American population reveals an excess of discussion and debate regarding non-Anglo races, their places in Anglo society, and how to answer the race “question” of each non-Anglo group. Yet, while violent rhetoric encouraging racially charged mass murder from newspapers and novels dominated the Anglo publishing industry, several non-Anglo American authors used the Anglo publishing industry during the latter half of the nineteenth century to resist the dominant narratives of the time. In effect, these authors challenge what Gerald Vizenor refers to in Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance as the “literature of dominance” (3). This dissertation considers minority author use of the Anglo publishing industry to respond to the lies and misrepresentations of minorities, racially charged events, and violent encounters printed regularly in newspapers, novels, and other forms of US print media, locally and nationally, with the aim of exposing and excoriating racially charged mass murders of minority groups. These authors achieved this goal both through newspaper articles and through the inclusion of newspaper articles in their literary texts in order to debunk the falsehoods perpetuated by the numerous Anglo publishers at the time, but also through the re-telling of events as minority groups saw and experienced them. In turn, I argue each text works to challenge Anglo readers’ apathy and willing acceptance of such misinformation by enacting various forms of survivance in order to repudiate the victimry that popular Anglo novels of the time depicted in order to perpetuate societal norms and expectations. This includes works by Charles Chesnutt, S. Alice Callahan, and John Rollin Ridge. Finally, I look at Chinese American responses to calls for their extermination and forced deportation/exclusion throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chinese Americans went directly to Anglo-dominant yet friendly newspapers to refute the numerous fabrications many American newspapers printed. These include responses from Norman Asing (Sang Yuen), and Hab Wa and Tong A-chick, as they set the precedent for Chinese American response, as well as Kwang Chang Ling, Yan Phou Lee, and Lee Chew, several of whom wrote in response to Dennis Kearney’s extreme anti-Chinese movement in California.
Diverse College Writers and the Conversation on Error and Standardization Across the Curriculum
Tommy Pierce, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
Standardization and the treatment of error is a central concern in the increasingly diverse college composition classroom. Writing teachers who wish to prepare students for success in the disciplines, but do not wish to be gatekeepers or guardians of a privileged variety of English, face a dilemma. This dissertation points toward an approach to error and standardization that avoids the prescriptive vs. descriptive dichotomy of whether to treat or not to treat error through. I also advocate bringing a perspective informed by sociolinguistics, second language writing, and discourse studies to the forefront of the WAC conversation on diverse student writers and error. In Chapter One, “Beyond the Tipping Point,” I illustrate the ever-increasing diversity of pre-college and college writing classes, and consider the key characterizations of developmental and second language writers. In Chapter Two, “Theories and Approaches to Diversity and Standardization,” I discuss the current college writing context as part of the historical trend toward the democratization of higher education. This consideration of previous influxes of diverse groups into higher education lays the groundwork for considering current notions about diversity and standardization. Chapter Three, “The Contested Terms of College Writing,” outlines my research methods. I use qualitative research methods within a hermeneutic approach in order to describe attitudes toward diverse student writers and standardization prominent among writing across the curriculum scholars. Chapter Four, “What We Talk about When We Talk About Diverse Student Writers,” provides a description of my analyses. A prominent tendency in the field of Writing Across the Curriculum is to construct diversity through the lens of error. The WAC Journal, as the premiere journal in the field, is indexical of this representation, and so was the logical choice for sampling the conversation. In Chapter Five, “A Reasonable Approach to Error,” I present the range of responses most prominent in the group of texts that were analyzed for this project, and outline my key findings, which suggest that many researchers interested in WAC support an approach to error that balances the need for correctness with the need for innovation. Finally, Chapter Six summarizes my key findings, and points to Sophistic tendencies in the WAC conversation on diverse student writers and error.
“A Moment of Magic”: Coyote, Tricksterism, and the Role of the Shaman in Rudolfo Anaya’s Sonny Baca Novels
Roy Turner, American Literary Studies
Kathleen Washburn, Chair
In Rudolfo Anaya’s Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, Shaman Winter, and Jemez Spring, the protagonist—Sonny Baca—undertakes a murder investigation that ultimately leads him to confront Raven, a mysterious figure whose acts of violence threaten the social fabric of Albuquerque, the American Southwest, and the entire world. In battling Raven, Sonny comes to realize that both he and his foe have the ability to access a spiritual power that takes root in the myths and belief systems of various cultures, including Sonny’s Chicano community, Native American peoples of the region, and ancient civilizations throughout the world, from which Sonny draws power as he becomes a shaman and healer. This dissertation explores how Anaya presents Sonny’s transformation as a model for self-empowerment in the face of colonial and neo-colonial violence. Tracing postcolonial theory, border studies, and contemporary discussions of trickster figures in Native cultures, this study argues that Anaya confronts both the genre expectations of the detective novel and the implicit racism and discrimination that continue to pervade cross-cultural interactions in the Southwest.
A River of Voices: Confluences and Cross-Currents in the Discourse of the Colorado River
Paul Formisano, American Literary Studies, Rhetoric and Writing
Gary Harrison, Chair
This dissertation argues that the Colorado River and its watershed face a crisis of representation as privileged nineteenth-century myths portraying the American West as a frontier, garden, and wilderness have limited an understanding of what and whom the river is for. It examines the contribution of “tributary voices” or the lesser known perspectives from the region to reveal new lines of thinking about this river and its surroundings as they engage the traditional views of the river shaped by these myths. The voices examined at length in this study include contemporary nature writer Craig Childs, recent female boating narratives by Patricia McCairen, Laurie Buyer, and Louise Teal, and AEURHYC, a Mexican water-users association from the Colorado Delta region. Through an interdisciplinary “watershed” approach that draws on ecocritical, bioregional, and rhetorical frameworks, this project considers how these tributary voices appropriate, complicate, and often reject the discourses and genres that have traditionally represented the river and watershed. Negotiating these conventional viewpoints, the tributary voices offer new lines of thinking that reveal the river's importance to a broader range of stakeholders. As impending water shortages threaten the region, this dissertation initiates a much needed conversation about the role literary and rhetorical production has in shaping attitudes and behaviors toward the Colorado and its finite resources.
The Visual Exchange: The Intersection of Vision, Gender, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
Stacey L. Kikendall, British and Irish Literary Studies
Gail Houston, Chair
This dissertation examines key moments in fictional and autobiographical texts when gender construction and colonization intersect and create the possibility for reciprocal visual exchange between disparate people. In a visual exchange, the participants actively and meaningfully look at one another, at the same time acknowledging the other’s subjectivity. I argue that these moments hint at the subliminal utopian desire by the author, and perhaps the reader, for a more equal, even democratic, community. I study a range of texts written during the long nineteenth century by male and female authors, including Sydney Owenson’s The Wild Irish Girl (1806), The History of Mary Prince (1831), Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), and Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm (1883). Despite the rich scholarship in recent years on race and imperialism, gender, and the gaze as they are conceived in the nineteenth century, it is rare to find scholarship that examines the intersections of all three, and none of the texts I study have been the subject of this kind of intersectional analysis.
Conducting Women: Gender, Power,and Authority in the Rhetoric of French and English Conduct Literature of the Later Middle Ages
Marisa Sikes, Medieval Studies
Anita Obermeier, Chair
Conduct and courtesy literature have a long history, its vernacular tradition extending back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. We are familiar with modern versions of this literature: Ann Landers’ advice column, women’s magazines, and even modern books that tell us about etiquette. My dissertation examines English and French conduct literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries addressed to women. These texts build rhetorical authority in various ways. At one end of the spectrum of rhetorical authority there are texts that build credibility through charismatic and familial authority; on the other end there are those that build it through abstract means such as the use of allegory and visionary inspiration. I locate these different approaches in relationship to other medieval literary traditions such as the recording of visions, the generation of mental images as a means of mnemonic practice and meditation, the debate on women, and the use of exempla, a prominent rhetorical feature of pastoral medieval sermons. My initial chapters explain my theoretical approach and examine conduct literature written by women for women. Christine de Pizan’s Book of the Three Virtues reveals that medieval pedagogies directed at women are not always concrete and experiential for her text engages in visionary practice, employs allegory, and self-reflective debate. Anne of France’s Lessons for Her Daughter relies on more familiar constructions of authority but is also part of a family tradition of royal instruction directed at children. In my fourth chapter I analyze the English translations of The Book of the Knight of La Tour Landry which were produced between 1422 and 1471 and in 1484. This male-authored text adopts a familiar, familial language of concern, but The Book also reflects the rhetoric of pastoral sermons as well as violent misogyny. My fifth chapter considers the anonymous, short Middle English poems narrated by a “Good Wife” along with a Middle Scots and an Anglo-Norman poem. These texts reveal the strictures on middle class female behavior and rely on concrete, specific details of physical objects and exempla; the Good Wife narrator presents herself as the mother of her audience, engaging the familial and charismatic aspects of rhetorical authority. The Anglo-Norman poem provides evidence that authority does not always reside within the mother figure in didactic literature, however, as the daughter in this poem speaks back to her mother. My final chapter considers how, despite the violence present in the Knight’s work, it and the works of Christine and Anne promote gynosocial relationships as a means of survival in medieval courtly society for women. My study questions modern assumptions about medieval understandings of gender and sexuality concerning medieval pedagogies. My work also historicizes the neuroscience debate over differences between the sexes in which Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender participates by examining the pedagogical approaches directed at medieval women.
Across Lands: Double Consciousness and Negotiating Identities in Early Chinese American Literature, 1847-1910s
Ying Xu, British and Irish Literary Studies
Gail Hurley, Chair
This dissertation analyzes the works of three early Chinese immigrant writers (Yung Wing, Yan Phou Lee, and Wong Chin Foo) and two mixed race writers (Edith Eaton and Winnifred Eaton) in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century North America in order to critique the formation of early Chinese American literature. Borrowing W. E. B. Du Bois’s construct of double consciousness and Amy Ling’s theory of between worlds, I argue that the complicated double consciousness exhibited in the works of these early immigrant writers demonstrates their across lands strategies of negotiating identities prior to and during the Exclusion Era (1882-1943). My formulation of what I call “across lands theory” focuses on the self-representations of Chinese and mixed race immigrants in their struggle to acquire a place in the United States as well as other countries while simultaneously coping with anti-Chinese regulatory laws. While they negotiate their identities across geographical terrains (China and the U.S.), they also construct their self-image across other terrains such as psychological, legal, discursive, and aesthetic ones with a range of responses that cannot be limited to just resistance and assimilation. Double consciousness is the dilemma immigrant writers face, and across lands strategies demonstrate their self-fashioning and negotiation of identity during the Exclusion Era. The first chapter of this dissertation analyzes the ways in which double consciousness is utilized by Yung Wing to construct his memoir as the text of a self-made man. I argue that Yung’s memoir revises the nineteenth-century cult of the self-made man to provide a prototypical model of autobiographical writing for the othered, racialized immigrant subject. The second chapter focuses on Yan Phou Lee’s autobiography and periodical writing and investigates Lee’s construction of difference in revising the stereotypical image of the Chinese in the late nineteenth century. I point out that the double consciousness shown in Lee’s works proves that he is, like Yung Wing, another across lands figure who negotiates “between worlds” in often sophisticated, complex, and nuanced ways. The third chapter focuses on complicated across lands strategies in Wong Chin Foo’s construction of Chinese American identity in relation to “the intelligent class of China” vis-à-vis “heathenism.” In this chapter, I argue that Wong’s periodical writing, translation, and political activities contribute to the project of constructing the new identity—Chinese American. My last chapter examines Edith and Winnifred Eaton’s writings in terms of acts of passing against a paradigm of resistance and acculturation. By studying Mrs. Spring Fragrance and a Japanese Nightingale in the Eatons’ works, I argue that their across lands strategy of utilizing and subversively undermining racial constructions of white American culture helps revise the abject Asian female body, including their own mixed race authorial bodies.
Influence, Agency, and the Women of England: Victorian Ideology and the Works of Sarah Stickney Ellis
Ashley Lynn Carlson, British and Irish Literary Studies
Gail Houston, Chair
This dissertation discusses the works of Sarah Stickney Ellis in the context of Victorian culture and argues that Ellis’s ideas about women, which have frequently been described as “anti-feminist” by twentieth and twenty-first century scholars, were often progressive and even proto-feminist. The first chapter discusses Ellis’s writings on education, where she argues that girls require moral, physical, and intellectual training. This chapter demonstrates that Ellis, though not necessarily radical, is more liberal than she has been given credit for in terms of her educational scheme for women. The second chapter focuses on Ellis’s views on courtships and engagements. Rather than persuading women to become meek and subservient wives, her recommendations for women before marriage clearly demonstrate that women should avoid matches where their own needs will not be met. She warns women away from self-sacrifice and instead emphasizes the importance of finding a man who will be able to fulfill his duties as a husband. Ultimately, she argues that women are better off remaining single than risking an unfortunate marriage. The third chapter focuses on Ellis’s efforts to enlarge a woman’s sphere of influence. Specifically, this chapter investigates the complex layers of rhetoric that Ellis uses to maintain an overtly submissive stance while subversively promoting female empowerment. This strategy, which frames Ellis’s most famous work, The Women of England, imitates the tactics Ellis suggests her readers might use with their husbands and other men. While consistently deprecating both herself and the role of women in general, she paradoxically argues that women are of utmost importance in Victorian society, and even assigns them more power than men. The final chapter examines Ellis’s temperance fiction. This chapter focuses on Family Secrets, a collection of temperance tales Ellis published in 1842. In these stories, Ellis disrupts the ideology of separate spheres by suggesting that this philosophy is a cause of alcoholism. Through stories about drunken men and women, Ellis shows that society’s arbitrary divide between public and private is dangerous. Thus, like her other writings, Ellis’s temperance fiction expands a woman’s sphere into the public arena. Simultaneously, she argues that men must participate in the domestic sphere.
A More Virtuous Empire: The Ideology of Manifest Destiny in American Literature and Film
Randall Lee Gann, American Literary Studies
Hector Torres, Chair
This dissertation examines the historical origins of the ideology of Manifest Destiny and the effects of its transmission into American literature and film. I argue that though eruptions of Manifest Destiny repeat the idea of American exceptionalism, the semi-autonomous nature of the work of art works against the grain of these eruptions to show they are also symptomatic of the inability of the American State to reconcile the desire to be both a virtuous republic and a global empire. I begin with an analysis of the embedded notion of exceptionalism in John Winthrop’s A Model of Christian Charity and follow the trace of that same notion in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in order to establish an historical lineage of America’s exceptionalist narrative. I then argue that the ideas of exceptionalism and the divine mission of the American State become compressed into the concept of Manifest Destiny and, through the discursive acts of John Louis O’Sullivan and the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, American cultural production repeats the discourse of Manifest Destiny. A list of the authors that appeared in the Democratic Review virtually defines American Romanticism and under O’Sullivan’s editorial control the Democratic Review directly allied those authors with his politico-literary vision, which was informed by his belief that America was exceptional. I demonstrate how a novel like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is a nodal point where an American exceptionalist discourse is transmitted into film vis-à-vis John Huston’s 1956 release of the filmic version of Moby Dick. Through a consideration of Rio Bravo (1959), and Lone Star (1998), my final chapter tracks eruptions of Manifest Destiny in the American Western film in order to show how changing formulations of American Exceptionalism gain traction in their time periods precisely because of the malleability of the exceptionalist narrative.
Domestic Violence and Empire: Legacies of Conquest in Mexican American Writing
Leigh Johnson, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
This dissertation posits that writers can symbolically represent domestic violence to critique unjust gender relations as well as iniquitous US policy toward Mexican Americans. I use the term domestic violence because it most closely describes the double voiced discourse women engage to critique communities that condone violence against women as well as a country that perpetrates violence against Mexican Americans within its borders. Put broadly, domestic violence refers to threats of sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse within the home. Furthermore, patriarchal control over women’s agency, sexuality, and mobility in turn-of-the-century texts also indicates domestic violence through social and historical conditions. Violence is especially evident throughout this project as women’s rights challenge patriarchal structures and civil rights challenge racist policies. Revealing the perilous gains of women and Mexican Americans, social backlash encourages explosions of domestic violence. For this reason, each chapter explores the historical and social contexts surrounding scenes of domestic violence. Mexican American women remain tenuously between the spaces of home and nation as they experience domestic violence from state and familial institutions. Because these women are not safe within their homes, they have to participate in a broader societal push to define, describe, and defend themselves against domestic violence. Their resistance comes with a price—women, especially women of color, who resist patriarchal violence may be seen as cultural traitors, exposing their men to criticism from dominant society. The first chapter shows how women’s speech both uncovers and masks narratives of domestic violence through allegory using the testimonios taken for the Bancroft project on California history. The second chapter examines how the historical romance genre incorporates scenes of domestic violence against women’s protected space in the home and nation. The third chapter reveals how representations of domestic violence within Mexico reflect colonial anxieties about conquest and domestic policy. American travel writers’ encounters with domestic violence in Mexico reflect the anxieties surrounding American entitlement to Mexico and the bodies of the people living there. The fourth chapter observes limitations on women’s ability to leave violent situations within the home or the nation. This chapter utilizes scenes by Mexican American men, as they write about (and blame women for) domestic violence. The fifth chapter celebrates women writers’ activism through literary motherwork. Though these texts, with the exception of the last chapter, precede the Chicano Movement, they are politically engaged in a struggle to define and defend la raza through their intellectual agendas.
The Other Vanishing American: Disappearing Farmers in American Literature, 1887-1939.
Carolyn Kuchera, American Literary Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, literary depictions of farmers borrow from the established trope of the “Vanishing American” Indian to portray farmers as disappearing before the forces of modern civilization. I argue that writing about farmers from this era ought to be approached as a type of extinction discourse: the rhetoric surrounding the decline of a race or culture. Extinction discourse, whether applied to the American Indian or to farmers, fuses mourning over a passing way of life with celebration of civilization’s progress. Farmers are portrayed as primitive figures, as fundamentally incompatible with modern civilization, in all of the fiction included in this study: Joseph Kirkland’s Zury (1887), Hamlin Garland’s “Up the Coolly” (1891) and “The Silent Eaters” (1923), John T. Frederick’s Druida (1923) and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939). While the works vary in their valuations of primitivism, alternately favoring the nostalgic or the progressive impulse, the farmer vanishes nonetheless. For the purposes of this study,“vanishing” signifies not so much a sociological fact as a representational act performed in response to a perceived loss.Literary constructions of the vanishing farmer are performative: they help produce the condition (disappearance) that they subsequently describe. The rhetorical origins of industrial agriculture are rooted in this disappearance. The developing reactions to the farmer’s “disappearance” and the varying rhetorical forms of those reactions are the focus of this study, which is contextualized through historical and sociological information. The divergent ideologies of nostalgia displayed in the fiction illustrate particular modern anxieties, while shadows or traces of Indian presence within these texts reveal a buried legacy of removal within Western expansion. This analysis also shows how portrayals of vanishing farmers often preserve the racialist logic of extinction discourse, wherein race contributes to extinction. The conclusion suggests a future direction for the literary analysis of farmers, arguing that they can be most productively approached as ghosts through Jacques Derrida’s theory of the “trace” and Toni Morrison’s notion of the shadow. With its focus on the decline, and sometimes disparagement, of agrarian America, this dissertation counters the dominant critical narrative that associates American virtue and civilization with rural values.
The Path to Personal Salvation: The Hermetic Trope of Self-Mastery in Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton
Cassandra Amundson, British and Irish Literary Studies
Barry Gaines, Chair
My dissertation examines Renaissance authors’ investment in the Hermetic tradition. This tradition is based on the Hellenistic Egyptian philosophical-theological writings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, which emerged in parallel with early Christianity, Neoplatonism, and Gnosticism. The Hermetic tradition gained importance in the Renaissance with Marsilio Ficino’s translations and soon became an alternative avenue for the exploration in the spiritual conception of the “self” as divine, a conception previously closed off by medieval orthodox religious and secular traditions. I argue that principal figures in the Renaissance and Restoration—Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton—were engaged in constructing this Hermetic mode of thinking to illustrate individuals’ ability and responsibility for “saving” themselves through the gnosis of self-discovery, the gnosis that emphasized living with and in the presence of God. The Hermetic discourse is well documented in the history discipline by such scholars as Lynn Thorndike, Frances Yates, and D. P. Walker. Yet, in the literary discipline, there have not been sufficient discussions for locating the influence of the Hermetism on Renaissance and Restoration literary authors. In this way, I fill the gap in Renaissance scholarship and classroom teaching by showing that these authors used rhetorical maneuvers and symbols to illustrate the Hermetic mode of thinking as a major defining feature in their arguments for a new epistemology.
Anglo-Saxon Poetics in the Linguarum Veterum Septentrionalium Thesaurus Grammatico-Criticus et Archaelogicus of George Hickes: A Translation, Analysis, and Contextualization
Shannon McCabe, Medieval Studies
Timothy C. Graham, Chair
In 1705, the last fascicle of the Linguarum Veterum Septentrionalium Thesaurus Grammatico-Criticus et Archaeologicus of George Hickes was published in Oxford. This monumental volume represented a major step forward in Anglo-Saxon studies. This study translates the most monumental chapter of the Thesaurus, Chapter 23. Although this chapter ―On the Poetic Art of the Anglo-Saxons,‖ represents the first sustained attempt to apply a critical and theoretical apparatus to Anglo-Saxon poetry, it is also concerned with attempts to sort out a ―purer‖ language from the various dialects represented in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Hickes directly addresses two major Anglo-Saxon forms in Chapter 23, ―pure Saxon,‖ and ―Dano-Saxonic,‖ the lesser of the two languages, because of its ―foreignness,‖ a key term for Hickes, who sought to separate out what he believed to be the true Anglo-Saxon from dialectal languages which he believed to have introduced ―abhorrent‖ elements into Anglo-Saxon poetry. Ultimately, this desire of Hickes to divine the ―purer‖ language with respect to the Anglo-Saxon reflects a more general eighteenth century anxiety about the nationalistic uses of language and the attempt to control and modify the language, beginning with Sir William Temple‘s essay On Ancient and Modern Learning, as well as the response to it by William Wotton in his Reflections Upon Ancient and Modern Learning, culminating in Jonathan Swift‘s ―A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue,‖ and Elizabeth Elstob‘s An Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities. Especially important was the linking of language to national identity and issues of nation building, as with the establishment of the Académie Française in 1635. This anxiety manifests itself in Swift as an attempt to purge the English language of ―barbaric‖ elements, namely Germanic words and grammatical forms, placing him and his supporters in direct opposition to the antiquarian movement headed by George Hickes and the Oxford Saxonists.
Decolonizing Gender: Indigenous Feminism and Native American Literature
Leah Sneider, American Literary Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
An Indigenous feminist approach to Native literature reveals the ways in which Native authors attempt to build balanced relationships and conversations across cultures, nations, and histories. I explore ways that Native authors depict gender violence and male characters who, like Native women, negotiate colonization and assert sovereignty. Doing so offers a new way of reading Native literature that seeks to also decolonize our analytical approaches for similar use across academic disciplines and for practical applications within and outside of academia. I define Indigenous Feminism as the responsibility for the nurturance and growth of Native communities through storytelling as a communal process and action reflecting personal sovereign power. I focus on how these authors adapt traditional knowledge of social balance through ideological subversion. I read literary conventions as creating complementary and reciprocal relationships in order to develop critical awareness thus enacting an Indigenous feminist ideology. An author’s rhetorical and literary use of these principles attempts to create a balanced relationship between reader and author that simultaneously decolonizes readers’ minds. Reading constructions of masculinities in connection with complementarity and reciprocity discloses and helps to understand colonial gender violence thus asserting an Indigenous feminist decolonizing process that seeks to remove colonial ideological shackles. Thus, I read Native texts for a balanced distribution of power across relationships, specifically gender-based relationships and systems of power. This exploration of complementary and reciprocal relationships enables us to read literature as critical responses to gender violence and its effects on both Native men and women. These texts and their authors offer a way of seeing gender identity on a continuum based on both individual and communal needs. Furthermore, such an analysis allows for balanced dialogue needed to uncover a new understanding of shared experiences to effect social change. Therefore, a more inclusive Indigenous feminist perspective presents a new way of recognizing literature and storytelling as social activism, or attempting to affect social justice within the imaginations and ideologies of its readers.
Righteous Anger and the Power of Positive Thinking: Early Nineteenth-century African-American and Native-American Racial Uplift Texts
Rebecca Elizabeth Hooker, American Literary Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
Early in the history of the United States, the practical concern with how to make constructive changes in the conditions endured by people of African and native descent became an urgent priority to many members of those races. The persistent need to make real change in the lives of people of color led many writers to deliver stinging critiques of the American hierarchies of race and class that left their people at the bottom of each of these categories and rendered them unable to overcome the stigma that accompanied their positions. The writers discussed in this project participated in, indeed helped to create an ideology and a methodology that would give people of color venues for effecting change in the social, political, and material conditions their people endured.
The roots of racial uplift lie in the early eighteenth-century, when writers of color first began to challenge the racial hierarchy established in America and encouraged their people to insist that their humanity guaranteed them the rights promised to white Americans following the Revolution. The intent of these initiatives was to improve conditions for all people of color. However, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the reality of these efforts often conflicted with their ideal goals. Uplift as it was most broadly conceived hoped to influence the conditions of all people of the race, no matter what their individual circumstances might be. Yet these efforts often had the effect of reinforcing divisions within the race, creating an elite class that was put forth as evidence of race progress. The latter conception of uplift as the province of the "better" class replaced the more egalitarian goals espoused earlier in the movement's history. The writers in this project reflect this earlier moment in American history, when writers of color concerned themselves with ideas and strategies that would affect an members of a race, not just those whose economic or social status placed them above the concerns that plagued their less fortunate compatriots. African-American writers David Walker and Maria Stewart and native writer William Apess mark the beginning of a praxis of racial uplift that places value on all members of a race, not just those whose financial or social status marks them as elite. Although they have not yet been identified in this way, these writers are the first published practitioners of "racial uplift" in the United States.
Daughters of Eve: Childbirth in Faulkner, Hemingway, and the Real World
Rachel Harmon, American Literary Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
The criticism concerning the works of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway is copious, and the human truths within the works of these two authors are undeniable. Therefore, this study carves out a niche for criticism on a new and shared aspect of the authors and their texts: childbirth. Beginning in the nineteenth century, this study examines the works of three main female writers of the time, specifically their works dealing with childbirth. By examining these thematically linked works by Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, childbirth as a thematic legacy is grounded in the pioneering texts of these female authors. I then work to examine the event of childbirth in the texts of Faulkner and Hemingway, with a focus on a reading and interpretation of the event. By reading the event and not simply the mothers, this study expands the theme of childbirth to the realm of a community event. All characters involved with the act are provided equal examination. In addition to establishing childbirth as a community event within the literature, this study simultaneously seeks to utilize the depictions of childbirth and the wider readings of various characters associated with the event to complicate common character readings, especially along the lines of gender. In doing so, this study offers a more balanced, less misogynist reading of the texts, specifically in relation to the theme of childbirth. In viewing the scenes of childbirth through a more balanced lens, childbirth is unfettered to serve a more critical function in the text, advancing plots, complicating and developing characters, and channeling larger issues such as morality, race, and sexuality. Finally, this study seeks to meld the experiences of the fictive women with experiences of real women in order to offer a safe and effective framework for discussing the real world experiences of women, encouraging reflection, contestation, and action.
Reframing Narratives and Reevaluating Bodies: Incorporating Disability into Narratives
Katyna Johnson, American Literary Studies
Gary Harrison, Chair
In this dissertation, I investigate the meanings assigned to disability in narrative art. I argue disability narratives challenge body-self relationships that change the stories we tell, change the way we think about the stories we tell, and quite possibly change society by telling tales people live. The chapters discuss memoirs and fiction that expand conceptions of disability from the vantage of blindness, autism, deafness, and differently-abled bodies. How we write about and live with disability can show us how narratives shape the body, how the body features in narrative or linguistic structures, how identity embodies culture, and how culture values the body. My analysis evaluates how disability may reframecharacterization or the structuralframeworks of texts. Bodily difference may reposition how to read the events or dialogue within stories or how to reconsider the actions or the individual identities they project. Narratives can confine the disabled body to negative, limited associations, but some memoirs and texts revaluethe cultural references that bind disability, and thereby illuminate the social constructs placed on bodily variation. The stories I discuss address how cultures encode ability and validate certain perspectives, and they attest to the insidious nature of binary thinking to center one group and marginalize another. Disability exposes the unreliability of communication and cultural frameworks to form identities--in-and-out perspectives trap disabled bodies but disabled bodies position between values--incorporating disability in narratives can disclose paradoxes and direct us to the permeability of linguistic and social negotiations. They demonstrate the necessity of reevaluating how we write about and address body variability and to grant space for bodily difference within cultures.
Voices of Glen Canyon: The Influence of Place on Imagination and Activism
Michaelann Nelson, Rhetoric and Writing
Michelle Kells, Chair
This dissertation examines the textual representations of Glen Canyon that resulted from the damming of Glen Canyon in 1963, and an exploration of the relationship between texts and environmental activism. The work of Wallace Stegner, Eliot Porter, John McPhee, Edward Abbey, and Katie Lee is illustrative of what Lawrence Buell calls the cultivation of an "environmental imagination". This dissertation highlights the important contributions Glen Canyon literature has made to the larger field of environmental literature through examining the portrayal of Glen Canyon and the relationship between humans and the natural world. It is illustrative of the evolution of conservation ideology and the cultivation of a wilderness ethic. Glen Canyon literature demonstrates the development and influence of a conservation aesthetic that has been highly influential in galvanizing the public to support environmental initiatives.
The role that Glen Canyon literature has played in building support for the environmental movement has been overlooked in environmental histories and literary studies. However, the debate over the fate of the Colorado River in the 1950's and 1960's created a large coalition of environmental groups that were already established to aid in environmental debates by the time the public began to pay attention to contemporary environmental issues whenSilent Springwas published in 1962. Environmental advocates, such as the Sierra Club, used the damming of Glen Canyon as a platform to disseminate larger ideas about the environment and man's relationship to it. I argue that Glen Canyon writing is exemplary and productive to contemporary environmental literary scholarship because it provides a unique opportunity to investigate how environmental ideology and writing techniques and tactics have evolved in the fifty years since the original dam debate. Glen Canyon writing is particularly fruitful to illustrate this evolution because it is one of the very few places where environmentalists have had an unremitting relationship to the place and the issues surrounding it for over fifty years.
The Chicana/o Grotesque: National Origins, Subversive Traditions, and Bodies of Resistance in U.S. Southwestern Literature
Danizete Ortega Martinez, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
My dissertation investigates the origins and influences of the Chicana/o grotesque and how it functions in its literature. The grotesque as an aesthetic category is usually associated with European art history and literary production that describes bawdy carnival culture, haunting landscapes, and gothic architecture and narrative. I define the Chicana/o grotesque as a subversive rhetorical gesture--or act of protest--against pervasive racial constructions generated both outside and inside the Chicana/o community; as an implicit figure in the emergence and success of post-national Chicana cultural production; and as a productive methodology within the Chicana/o body politic. By exploring the grotesque and its hemispheric connections to Latin America and the U.S. South, and by examining the familial resemblances between the European aesthetic, my project considers how the grotesque has its own lineage within a Chicana/o cultural history. I argue that the grotesque in Chicana/o literature--comically or repulsively incongruous and shocking characters, situations, and/or narrative structures--is most pronounced in textual representations of disembowelment, dismemberment, corpses, and (re)memberment. Through the metaphor of the body, Chicana/o authors provide radical textual representations that help us explore manifestations of alterity that result from ethnic difference and border, class, and gender struggles. I also use the grotesque as a category of analysis to historically reflect the emergence, rise, and proliferation of Chicana/o cultural production by tracing the grotesque in its pre-contact mythology as demonstrated in the Southwest myth of Montezuma; through the iteration of Mexican folk tales inherent in Luis Valdez' and Cherrié Moraga's plays; and through the publication and proliferation of pre-national, national, and post-national Chicana/o narrative as illustrated in such works by Oscar Zeta Acosta, Alejandro Morales, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Ana Castillo. Overall, my analysis introduces a new methodology for understanding how Chicana/o identity oscillates between cultures, languages, and histories, and plays a critical role in contemporary literary and cultural studies.
Beloved Savages and Other Outsiders: Genre and Gender Transgressions in the Travel Writings of Herman Melville, Bayard Taylor, and Charles Warren Stoddard
Kelvin Ray Beliele, American Studies
Gary Scharnhorst, Chair
My dissertation is a study of the travel writings of three nineteenth-century American authors, Herman Melville, Bayard Taylor, and Charles Warren Stoddard. I argue that these writers evinced a rebellion encompassing literary as well as political and social subversion. In order to succeed in their rebellion, they relied upon genre transgression, the violation of the traditions and conventions of a particular genre, to convey defiant social opinions. They were demonstrative in voicing their critiques of American sexual, religious, and racial dogmas in their travel fiction and poetry.
These three authors violated genre boundaries in most of their works, but especially their travel narratives, several of which have come to be call "travel fiction," texts that are loosely autobiographical. In order to convey my arguments, I have viewed these works, in part, in the context of literary hybridity, the combination of elements from separate genres or literary styles to create a new combined genre; heteroglossia, an inherent human trait of using dissimilar media and vocabularies; and intertextuality, the introduction of a peripheral text into the main narrative of a text.
In addition to their disregard for the boundaries of genre, these authors displayed genuine affection for males and an appreciation of the male physique in ways that would "homosexual," "gay," or "queer" in current American society. Consequently, each of these men disregarded religious and moral constraints against same-sex affection and non-aggressive physical contact. As a result of their unconventional beliefs, they wrote against form, violating boundaries of gender and genre, mixing genres in their writing, and disregarding the usual Euro-American gender barriers.
In my study of the texts of these writers, I apply the idea "queer," the sexual and gender outsider, and "post-colonial," the examination of disparate cultures in the context of Western imperialism. An important aspect of these authors' writings is what occurs in their texts at the intersection of queer and postcolonialism. I demonstrate that Melville's, Taylor's, and Stoddard's genre bending in their travel writings is a reflection of their rebellion against the sexual and imperialist beliefs of the nineteenth century.
Hearkening to Whores: Reviving Eighteenth-century Models of Sensible Writing
Robin Runia, British and Irish Literary Studies
Carolyn Woodward, Chair
Scholars of both eighteenth-century and postmodern culture have long demanded a reexamination of Enlightenment. I argue that J.M. Coetzee'sFoe, John Fowles'sA Maggotand Susan Sontag'sThe Volcano Loveranswer this call. As historiographic metafiction, these novels recuperate and revalue specific discourses within eighteenth-century culture and suggest that our Enlightenment inheritance may be emotional--that the first-person narratives that became hugely popular during the eighteenth-century are important for their potential to provide opportunities for sympathetic identification and the eliciting of feelings of responsibility. Specifically, through their representation of eighteenth-century discourses of prostitution,Foe,A Maggot, andThe Volcano Lovercelebrate the potential of suffering to provoke feelings of responsibility and of first-person narrative forms to make that suffering visible.
In this project I achieve two aims. First, by grounding the textual details of these postmodern novels in specific eighteenth-century contexts, I clarify our understanding of how historiographic metafiction can refigure our past. By highlighting the eighteenth-century difficulties and potentials for developing sympathy for whores, Coetzee's, Fowles's, and Sontag's novels emphasize the capacity of individuals to develop feelings of responsibility for coerced agents. By excavating the connection of these novels to eighteenth-century notions of language, identity, religious enthusiasm, and aesthetics, I demonstrate howFoe,A Maggot, andThe Volcano Loverexplore prompts and blocks to fellow feeling.
Second, my project illustrates how these novels construct the first-person narrative--in the form of memoir, letter, and testimony--as a means of cultivating sympathetic identification and feelings of responsibility. The character of Susan Barton in Coetzee'sFoeand her attempts to control her story feature the affective valences of signification. In Fowles'sA Maggot, the character of Rebecca Lee's testimony trumps blocks to identification and elicits sympathy in her auditor. Sontag'sThe Volcano Loverconjures competing aesthetic visions of the late eighteenth-century and represents Emma Hamilton's letter-writing as the most effective form of provoking affective response. Each of these postmodern novels demonstrates the impact narrative form had and continues to have on the ability of individuals to see and hear someone else's story and to feel for that story.
Pox'd Whores and Virginal Fannies: Shifting Representations of Women's Bodies and their Effects on Female Satire in the Eighteenth Century
Birgit Schmidt-Rosemann, British and Irish Literary Studies
Carolyn Woodward, Chair
In the two decades leading up to the mid-eighteenth century in Britain, an exploding print culture produced literary and visual depictions of women that reflect a radical change in popular perceptions of women's bodies, a change that affected how women of the period could use the satiric mode. In the popular culture of the early 1730s, sexually voracious women were figured as both symbol and scapegoat for excessive spending that threatened to lead to the collapse of a burgeoning economy. In this culture, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu uses the traditionally masculine mode of satire and appropriates the image of the sexually dominant woman in order to refocus the moral debates of her time on the weak male body, whose impotence she constructs as to blame for creating the image of the monstrous, sexual woman in the first place. Texts like John Cleland'sMemoirs of a Woman of Pleasureand Henry Fielding'sThe Female Husbandreflect a change in popular cultural depictions of women that replaces the specter of sexually threatening femininity with an idealized image of naturally benevolent, sentimental femininity. This is the culture that Jane Collier confronts in the early 1750s. In her satireAn Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting,Collier appropriates and exaggerates the manufactured image of acutely sensitive femininity in order to demonstrate how her culture's blind idealization of sentiment produces monstrous women that defeat her society's goals of nurturance, peace, and benevolence. The stylistic irony that pervades Collier'sEssayignores and resists the vilification of artful female wit and the demand for female sincerity that have by this time taken hold of the culture. Both Montagu and Collier play important roles in the history of women's satire: their satiric confrontation of popular images of women's bodies can be seen in modern female satirists like Margaret Cho, Tina Fey, and Kathy Griffin.
Desert Eroticism: Ellen Meloy's Intimate Geography and Deep Map of Place
Kristi Stewart, American Literary Studies
Scott Sanders, Chair
Ellen Meloy is a vital yet relatively unnoticed nature writer who wrote with humor and concern about the desert Southwest. This full-length study adds her work to the critical literature on nature writing. Ellen Meloy called her writing a "deep map of place." This study examines Meloy's four major works (Raven's Exile, The Last Cheater's Waltz, The Anthropology of Turquoise,andEating Stone) from the perspective of that map, through which Meloy cultivates an intimate and erotic awareness of place. In this study, I observe how Meloy's relationship to place shifts and evolves through her four books. InRaven's Exile,Meloy writes with intimacy about her explorations of Desolation Canyon in Utah. InThe Last Cheater's Waltz,she maps an intimate geography with a variety of places, only to feel in the end that "place" as an intimate partner has cheated on her. In the series of essays that compriseThe Anthropology of Turquoise,Meloy cultivates a sensual, instinctual, and erotic understanding of place by using a rich and colorful palette throughout. InEating Stone,Meloy's final book, she is more meditative and spiritual as she spends time with desert bighorn sheep. Using intimate, erotic, and relationship metaphors, Meloy expands the boundaries of place writing and stretches our understanding of place itself.
Toward a Visual Paideia: Visual Rhetoric in Undergraduate Writing Programs
Candice Welhausen, Rhetoric and Writing
Susan Romano, Chair
New media and digital texts of the twenty-first century are generally characterized as rich and dynamic combinations of verbal, visual, and aural elements. Instruction in visual rhetoric in the writing classroom, however, has tended to focus on analysis with far less emphasis on teaching students how to produce multimodal texts. Drawing upon classical rhetorical theory, I propose the development of a visual paideia grounded in the educational goals of the Greco-Roman paideia to incorporate richly balanced instruction in both analysis and production of visual-dominant texts. I approach the development of a visual paideia via examining the current state of visual theory and practice in academic instructional culture. I survey extant theories of visual texts to argue that theories of graphic design, semiotics, and visual culture provide the rich framework needed to inform a visual paideia. I then conduct a writing program and textbook survey to tease out pedagogical practices. Finally, I propose the development of a collection of visual topoi or commonplaces that can be used as a powerful tool of invention in the creation of visual-dominant texts as I demonstrate through several examples of student work.
Satan, Saints, and Heretics: A History of Political Demonology in the Middle Ages
Cynthia D. Fillmore, Medieval Studies
Timothy Graham, Chair
This project shows how and why demonology was used in the medieval ages as a legitimate political strategy, both by the Church and by seculars. The importance of demonology to the European medieval culture is firmly established through an examination of relevant Jewish and Christian biblical and extrabiblical texts. The avenues by which demonology was transmitted - patristic and theological writings, hagiographies, sermons, and secular literatures - is also examined to underscore the integration of demonology into the religious and lay culture.
Those thought to be involved with the demonic ran the gamut from the highest to lowest classes, and the entire Christian community was responsible for indentifying and dealing with anyone thought to be implicated with or directed by Satan or his demons. In the teleological worldview of the European Middle Ages, all Christians were intimately involved in protecting and strengthening the community until the End Time and Final Judgment arrived. Any number of charges - apostate, heretic, schismatic, idolater - were directly linked to Satan's influence and might be leveled against an individual or group. This project investigates a number of these groups and individuals as well as their accusers.
Rhetoric and Sovereignty: Refiguring Rhetorical Agency in Works by Native Authors
John D. Miles, American Literary Studies, Rhetoric and Writing
Susan Romano, Chair
In 2003, the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies (ARS) brought scholars together from rhetoric, literature, communications and other scholarly fields at the Conference on the Status and Future of Rhetorical Studies. One of the working groups at this conference discussed the question "How ought we to understand rhetorical agency?" From this conference and subsequent writings on agency, there has been a call to retheorize rhetorical agency. The introduction of postmodern or posthumanist theories of subjectivity has lead to a disconnect between the specific rhetorical act and agency. My project suggests that we are at a theoretical impasse where the argument over subjectivity is crippling the ways we understand agency. By taking into account the ways Native authors write about language I advance contemporary theories of agency in three ways. First, I look at the classical and contemporary theories oftopoi, agency, and publics. Alongside rhetorical theory I suggest that Gerald Vizenor's work on survivance and transmotion may open new terrain in rhetorical theory in relation totopoi, agency. I do so by reading texts by nineteenth century and early twentieth century Native authors for the ways they use, interrogate, and re-define thetopoicirculating in dominant discourse about Natives to gain agency in public discourse. Finally, I discuss how sovereignty has become atoposin contemporary Native discourse and in fact offer us a new understanding of the strategic use of counterpublic discourse. Doing so I hope to enrich rhetorical theory with Native authors' ideas about language use and account some of the ways marginalized rhetors enter public discourse to promote social change, and look to the ways rhetorical theory can inform writing by Native people.
Dialogic Voice in Contemporary Women's Memoir: Daughter's Narrative Strategies for Negotiating Cultural and Generational Differences in the Mother/Daughter Relationship
Stephanie Marie Gustafson, American Literary Studies
Feroza Jussawalla, Chair
Although mother/daughter relationships are prevalent in memoir, feminist literary scholarship has yet to theorize about them in depth. Memoirs' narrative strategies such as reflection and speculation provide the daughters/narrators tools for negotiating generational differences that cause tension between themselves and their mothers without perpetuating the idealized image of "the mother" or "the mother as monster." This study examines the way four women memoirists from different ethnic, racial, and class backgrounds, and different sexual orientations represent mother/daughter relationships and foreground the mother's voice. In addition, by examining the narrative strategies of four memoirists, the importance of having a recorded version of their lives and their mother's lives from both a political and psychological or healing perspective is established.
To understand the importance of having a recorded version of a life, memoir is defined and differentiated from autobiography because as forms of life writing the two genres differ in purpose and narrative strategy. Past theories about the construction of motherhood as an institution as well as the ideologies that shape the way daughters view their mothers also informs this study of mother/daughter relationships in women's memoir. The daughters in the study had to develop an awareness of the social, political, and economic factors that shaped their mothers and contributed to the tension in the mother/daughter relationship.
This study shows that memoir's narrative strategies help the daughter illuminate one of the important and significant relationships that women must negotiate by using self-reflexivity and speculation to fill in the gaps in the daughter's knowledge about the mother's life. Without the daughter's memoir, it is likely that the mother's voice and stories would not be heard. In the end the memoirs foreground ways in which the mothers' and daughters' stories coexist.
Utopian Myopia: American Consumerism, the Cold War, and the Popular Fiction of the Long 1950s
Dennis Michael Lensing, American Literary Studies
Jesse Aleman, Chair
I argue that the years immediately following World War II witnessed a drastic shift in ideology in America and that the popular fiction of the day reveals the tensions and anxieties generated by this change. A new, militant consumerism arose, in which the consumption of material goods came for the first time to be seen as a patriotic duty, both in order to stave off a potential economic recession and to demonstrate the superiority of capitalism to communism. Fostered by the Armed Services Editions distributed free by the United States government to soldiers during the war, the postwar era saw an unprecedented paperback revolution. This genre fiction served to provide symbolic resolutions to irresolvable historical contradictions, as I demonstrate by reading the texts from a Marxist cultural studies standpoint drawn from such critics as Fredric Jameson and Raymond Williams. This study is a work of recovery and of analysis, intended both to preserve texts that might otherwise have been forgotten and to situate them within their historical moment.
Philadelphia, Here He Came: Brian Friel and America
Maria Szasz, British and Irish Literary Studies
David Jones, Chair
This dissertation considers the work of Brian Friel through an American lens. By including both a literary and a theatrical analysis, I bridge the gap between these often polarized methods of assessing drama.
After discussing what theatrical knowledge Friel gained in 1963 from his mentorship in Minneapolis under the legendary theatre director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, I analyze thirteen of Friel's plays:Philadelphia, Here I Come!, The Loves of Cass McGuire, Lovers, The Mundy Scheme, The Freedom of the City, Faith Healer, Translations, American Welcome, Aristocrats, Dancing at Lughnasa, Wonderful Tennessee, Molly SweeneyandGive Me Your Answer, Do!My dissertation explores how America has impacted Friel's work, and how Friel's plays have affected New York theatre for over forty years.
I begin by tracing the development of Friel's numerous Irish-American and American characters, and his frequent use of American music and themes in his plays. Next, I discuss how the plays have been received on and Off-Broadway. In the process, I ponder why Friel did not start his New York theatre career on Off-Broadway. As early asCass McGuirein 1966, Friel was an obvious playwright for the newly emerging Off-Broadway movement, due to his introspective and tragicomic plays. Despite this natural affinity, Friel did not have an Off-Broadway play untilTranslationsin 1981. Instead of finding his niche Off-Broadway, Friel struggled through a number of Broadway disappointments (Cass McGuire, Mundy Scheme, Freedom of the City, Faith Healer,andWonderful Tennessee), as well as sporadic Broadway successes (Lovers, Lughnasa,the 2006Faith Healerrevival, and the 2007Translationsrevival). This dissertation tries to determine where the responsibility of these successes and failures lies: in the plays themselves, their leading actors and actresses, the fickle New York reviewers, or their Broadway location?
I conclude by comparing Friel's New York career with the work of his Irish dramatic predecessors, including Lady Gregory, Yeats, Synge, O'Casey, Beckett and Behan, and his contemporaries, such as Leonard, Keane, McGuinness, McPherson and McDonagh. Finally, I reflect upon why Friel is the most insightful contemporary Irish playwright on the New York stage.