Recent Dissertations

This page lists the most recent ten years of PhD and MFA 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 are available here.

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010


The Value of Storytelling Through Digital Family Narratives: A Case Study of a Dine Storyteller

Sunnie Clahchischiligi, Rhetoric and Writing

Tiffany Bourelle, Chair

The abstract will be available presently.

Menetekel: Ishmael's Black Whale and the Semiotics of Doom

Ty Cronkhite, American Literary Studies

Scarlett Higgins, Chair

The abstract will be available presently.

From Peer Review to Peer Review Conference: Increasing Collaboration in Asynchronous and Synchronous Computer-Mediated Modes in a Technical and Professional Communication Class

Sofia Tarabrina, Rhetoric and Writing

Cristyn Elder, Chair

The abstract will be available presently.

Museum of Clean: A Memoir

Cyrus Stuvland, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

The abstract will be available presently.

Meadowlark: Poems

Tyler Hayes-Mortensen, Creative Writing

Stephen Benz and Diane Thiel, Chairs

The abstract will be available presently.


Maneuvering Mestizaje In Shakespeare's Tragiccomedies

Andrea Borunda, British and Irish Literary Studies

Marissa Greenberg, Chair

The abstract will be available presently.


Jennifer Tubbs, Creative Writing

Andrew Bourelle, Chair

The lines between fact and fiction, real and surreal blur in this collection of magical realist tales. A young woman, coerced into hunting mysterious creatures in the forest, discovers that her worldview is marred by prejudice in “The Woods,” only to lose the family and support network on which she has relied for her entire life. The nature of storytelling itself is examined in “Violet,” in which a pregnant teenager has to make difficult decisions for her baby, informed by the complex and restrictive geopolitical systems in which we live. Meanwhile, the teen protagonist in “Redbud” struggles against the tyranny of the beauty industry in her small-town dystopia. “Starseed” examines the impact of Otherizing, while “The Soap Factory” takes on issues of consent and gendered violence. “The Garden” and “The Hive” follow this through line into an increasingly alienating and isolating postindustrial world. Each of these stories asks readers, What does it mean to be an outsider? Fortunately, it turns out you can see a lot from the outside looking in. 


Rhea Erica Ramakrishnan, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

Even if something’s observable, does that mean we can trust it? In Spectator, a collection of poems in three parts, a speaker asks this question repeatedly. As a child of immigrants, her identity feels constantly in flux and, often, threatened. What does it mean that her identity doesn’t take the form her parents ascribe to her? She finds that her present often feels like a betrayal of the past, especially as she begins to fall in love—which is, in itself, a kind of illusion. An illusion, though, is still instructive—perhaps more so than something we believe, unshakably to be true. 

Spectator is a dance between the present and the past. The speaker collects and arranges her memories to try to make sense of her present and, indeed, she finds bright moments of clarity. Ultimately, though, she finds herself manipulating the images of the people she loves to more closely mirror herself—and her self will not stay still. 

More than the Defiant Few: Lost Womanhood and Necro Women Dismantling Nineteenth-Century Gender Ideologies

Vicki Vanbrocklin, American Literary Studies

Jesse Aleman, Chair

Too many scholars still rely on adjectives such as deviant, unruly, dangerous, and wild to describe women who interrogate rigid forms of womanhood, especially women of color. My project intervenes in nineteenth-century womanhood discussions, which have traditionally solidified three main categories: Republican, True, and New Womanhood. Between True Womanhood in the mid-nineteenth century and the late nineteenth-century concept of New Womanhood lies an overlooked category aptly understood as Lost Womanhood. I focus on newspaper archives, archival research, and imaginative literature to find “lost” women who critiqued a patriarchal system that thrives on women living in a status akin to being socially dead. Recovering marginalized women writers and reexamining how women openly questioned the gender roles prescribed to them proves that an alternate model of womanhood always existed. Lost Women can recognize the instabilities in their lives and work to change them through negotiation or resistance. They deeply understand their second-class status and rebel against it with successful strategies of writing located in their literary texts and the historical archive. Lost Womanhood creates a critical approach to embracing more nineteenth-century women’s material conditions and lived realities. As a more normative form of womanhood, Lost Womanhood directly critiques a patriarchal system that thrives on women as second-class citizens with a lack of rights. This new category of womanhood will remedy True and New Womanhood’s problematic nature as forms of unsustainable womanhood and decenter middle-class whiteness as the principal determiner of womanhood with an interracial approach. Women who would not or could not embody True Womanhood provide a more expansive way of understanding nineteenth-century womanhood in the United States. 

Making Space for Central Ameerican Diasporic Decolonial Imaginaries: An Autoethnography of a 1st Generation Central-American-American 

Melisa N. Garcia, Rhetoric and Writing

Bethany Davila, Chair

This autoethnography argues that alternative discourses are necessary to give voice to non-dominant narratives and to engage with underrepresented identities and experiences. I use the frameworks of constellating identities and decolonial imaginaries to explore the narratives of my Central American immigrant parents and my own first generation Central American-American experiences. Specifically, I examine a graphic narrative and multimodal installation that I created in order to discover enacted constellating identities that are not fixed but disbursed and change over time. I also describe the decolonial imaginaries, the “third spaces” that are created from the lived experiences of underrepresented individuals, made visible in these narratives. Understanding and accessing constellating identities and decolonial imaginaries is vital to countering the shame, secrecy and silence that is common among the Central American diaspora. 

Whose Body is Deserving: Discourse, Power, and Ideologies Concerning Non-Normative Bodies on Instagram

Misty Thomas, Rhetoric and Writing 

Beth Davila, Chair

This dissertation uses FCDA to investigate the construction and control of the boundaries of normativity as they relate to the body. Data in the form of comments was collected from three different Instagram accounts run by individuals with non-normative bodies. From the data, I argue that not only are non-normative bodies controlled through the coded language of health, but through racialized dehumanization. Even alleged demonstrations of support are problematized through what is being supported. The Instagram comments left on the accounts of non-normative bodies demonstrates that these bodies are suppressed as a way to maintain normative ideologies. 

The Buried Train

Amanda Kooser, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

The past is never gone in The Buried Train, a collection of three stories that engages with memory, memoir and postmodernism. “A Patchwork Person” melds fiction and nonfiction across a novella-length metaphysical detective story as an alter ego of the writer goes on a cross-country search for her missing, Pynchon-obsessed stepfather. “The Nature of Love is Lingering” uses the personal essay as an exploration of the writer’s alcoholic father and his legacy in her life. “The Buried Train,” a short fiction story, investigates childhood trauma reemerging in the relationship between the writer and her brother as they seek out a flood-ravaged New Mexico ghost town. Themes of family, the search for the self and (of course) trains unite this trio of tales. 


Regional Domesticities: Recalling, Rewriting, and Redefining Gender and Domesticity in the Greater Southwest

Laurie Lowrance, American Literary Studies

Jesse Aleman, Chair

This dissertation examines how Native American and Mexican American women in the greater Southwest negotiated domestic expectations within their own cultures while navigating the demands of encroaching Anglo culture to produce something new: hybrid domesticities rooted in the region, which I call regional domesticities. Chapter 1 focuses on María Amparo Ruiz de Burton and connects her novels Who Would Have Thought It? and The Squatter and the Don to the rhetoric of the Overland Monthly. Chapter 2 explores bicultural collaborations between Native American and Anglo women and focuses on Sarah Winnemucca’s Life Among the Piutes and Helen Sekaqueptewa’s Me and Mine. Chapter 3 examines public preservation through Adina De Zavala’s History and Legends of the Alamo and Jovita González’s Dew on the Thorn and Caballero. Chapter 4 pairs the Sherman Institute with Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes to demonstrate how gardens produce hybrid domestic spaces. 


Jennifer Conn, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

Poetry has long been a method for story-telling. I have implemented prose and poetry to give voice to memoir. Personal photographs and illustrations I created are used in counterpoint to the poems, to exemplify the silences experienced by children who were raised in trauma and how one can move beyond the trauma experience, yet still keeps aspects of that trauma with them in a way that impacts all future interactions of their life. 

Nada Más Que Decir

Darren Donate, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

The following dissertation is made up of a collection of poems concerning Mexican-American labor, socioeconomic distress and transnationality. While the work in this dissertation attempts to understand "brownness" through the lens of migration and marginalization, it aims to present the contemporary realities of Mexican-American peoples. Through a combination of "traditional poetics" (what the author dubs as left-hand margin poems) and "VisPo," the collection attempts to understand the complexity of intergenerational and multicultural relationships in Hispanic communities. The collected poetry is intended to be hyper-regional, concerned with violence that occurs in urban Los Angeles—violence that is sexual, corporeal, and emotional in nature. The author is concerned with how race and culture is constructed (and reacted towards) through poetry. This work includes photographs from the author’s family members in hopes to better understand the obstacles of immigrant experience. 

A Little Bird Told Me: Stories

Amarlie Foster, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This creative dissertation is a suite of short fiction and essays. This project is an exploration of love and romance, with a pointed interest in how wider cultural narratives about "romance" impact both the author and her characters in their experiences of love and romance. The collection examines what happens when “the Real” brushes up against simulation models, and ultimately asks the question: what is authentic and true, and does the Real exist?

An American Standard

Seth Garcia, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair


Thank You, John

Michelle Gurule, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

THANK YOU, JOHN is a comedy-tragedy memoir, following 24-year-old, Michelle Gurule, a queer, wanna-be writer, exasperated by poverty, bad teeth, and the poor choices of her family. With a Chicano father convinced aliens will eventually rule the world, and a White mother who’d maxed out her credit cards to feed her McDonald’s addiction, Michelle turns to Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Sunday episodes for insight, which leads her to believe a sugar daddy arrangement is her density. As John becomes aware of the severity of Michelle’s family’s poverty, he leverages it against her, offering financial security for the lot of them in exchange for marriage and Michelle must decide between lifelong financial security for her and her family or the uncertain path of an artist.


Jane Kalu, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

MOTHERING is a story cycle that focuses on Igbo women dealing with the complexities of patriarchy in their marriages, parental relationships, friendships, sibling relationships, and their environments. It’s a book about longing, about promises made to address this longing, and about the consequences of decisions made based on those promises. The women in MOTHERING live in either Albuquerque or Enugu, one arriving to meet a long-time lover who finally has his papers and can have her join him, another moving to America to find her long-lost brother who disappeared in the 80s. These women are strong-willed and make their own decisions, or at least think they do. 

Charlotte Smith

Heather Johnson Lapahie, Creative Writing

Sharon Warner and Daniel Mueller, Chairs

In this novella, Charlotte Smith, the main character, a gay Dine fifteen-year-old girl, is propelled into prostitution with an abusive older man. In the beginning, Charlotte is kicked out of her mother's home for having a homosexual relationship with another girl, Ava. The two girls try to make it on the street, homeless, together, but fail. Circumstances force Charlotte to resort to prostitution to support them both.

Animal Texts: Critical Animal Concepts in Environmental Literature for the Anthropocene

Lauren Perry, American Literary Studies

Jesse Alemán, Chair

This dissertation examines how key environmental texts from the late nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries portray animals and the changing conception of animal lives. Beginning with short stories by Sarah Orne Jewett and Jack London, the first chapter examines how early environmentally-minded writers developed animals' independent subjectivity. The second chapter analyzes how Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1949) and Sarah Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) promote ecological awareness by paying attention to animal time. Chapter three argues that Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire (1968) develops a layered understanding of animal consciousness. Chapter four contends that Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge (1991) merges the genre of memoir with scientific writing to chronicle animal memories. Chapter five analyzes Dan Flores’ Coyote America (2016) and Nate Blakeslee’s American Wolf (2017) as examples of animal texts that utilize history, mythology, science, and decades of wildlife watching to create a new kind of literary animal presence that accurately conveys what animals have experienced and continue to experience alongside humans.


The Ego at an Impasse: Aesthetic Empathy and the Abject d’art in Fin de Siècle Supernatural Fiction

Leandra Binder, British & Irish Literary Studies

Gail Houston, Chair

This dissertation examines the symbol of an art object which represents a corpse or dead person’s identity, what I call the abject d’art, as it appears in fin de siècle supernatural fiction by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) to identify late Victorian notions of Kristevan abjection, avant la lettre. Lee’s aesthetic philosophy informs her use of the abject d’art, especially her examination of the empathetic process as part of aesthetics to explain how individuals represent and respond to objects mentally and emotionally. Through her analysis of empathy, Lee identifies the ego as a fallible moderator of an individual’s responses and judgments towards the external world. Lee’s fiction uses the abject d’art to expose how ego-driven perception results in abusive representations of women and the laboring classes. This project identifies expressions of the abject d’art in Lee’s fiction, tracing her critique of determinism, religion, marriage, and social injustice as sources of abjection.

A Rhetorical Analysis through American Indian/Indigenous Tribal Leadership:  The Rhetorics of Four North American Tribal Leaders

Loyola Bird, Rhetoric & Writing

Gail Houston, Chair


The Ridgeway Ghost

Mitch Marty, Creative Writing

Gregory Martin, Chair

The Ridgeway Ghost is a memoir in essays about alcohol and alcoholism, about the way my father’s alcoholism has affected my life, about the way that generational alcoholism in my father’s family has affected my life, my relationships, and the way I think about myself. It’s about how place and culture can create the ideal circumstances for addiction to take root in a family and never let go. The story told through The Ridgeway Ghost isn’t unique – it’s abundantly common – but through this selection of essays I analyze the culturally embedded mentality of drinking as a staple of life in Wisconsin and the way functional alcoholism can crater a person or a family.

A Boy Named Ariel

Ariel McGuirk, Creative Writing

Gregory Martin, Chair

This creative dissertation is a first-person dramatic memoir. This project is an exploration of grief and longing to connect to a mother who died before the narrator could form memory. It examines grief, family, escape, and home, through an Aristotelian ‘hero’s journey’ story structure that connects with several social issues prevalent in US discourse for the past two decades—including the opioid epidemic, migration between Mexico and the US, post 9/11 conflicts in the Middle East, and economic bereavement. Influences for this project include Tobias Wolff, Alison Bechdel, Mary Karr, Leslie Jamison, and James Baldwin.

First the Blessing, Then the Aftermath

Emily Murphy, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

This collection of poetry explores themes of time, memory, and identity through a lens crafted after a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel. Drawing on the author’s personal experiences and history, this collection confronts the reader with the historical implications of their own choices through a structure that compels multiple readings, leading to new discoveries of the interior experience of choice. A pair of choices located at the end of each poem confront the reader with an opportunity to complete the poem as best suits them. Each successive re-reading will result in new iterations of the book’s structure, though the odds of any two readings being identical are vanishingly small. By successively re-reading and re-engaging with the contents of this book, the reader is given the opportunity to re-create a history and by so doing, re-create their own. 

The Magic of Love: Love Magic in Medieval Romance

Dalicia Raymond, Medieval Studies

Anita Obermeier, Chair

This project examines authorial representations of the morality of three functions of love magic: to induce, to disrupt, and to facilitate love in twelfth- through fifteenth-century Middle High German, Old French, and Middle English romances. Using a cultural studies approach with close textual analysis and informed by gender studies, it investigates medieval romance authors’ discomfort with love inducing magic and asserts that this discomfort is a response to the magic’s violation of free will, a central tenet of medieval theology. I find that authors condemn love inducing magic but mark specific instances acceptable through explicit clarification of divine approval. Love disrupting and facilitating magic do not inherently violate free will, and so the morality of the magical practitioner’s motivations is extended onto the love magic. This project provides an understanding of how medieval authors grappled with the morality attached to love magic and how they communicated this morality to audiences.

Mass and Shadow

Rubin Rodriguez, Creative Writing

Stephen Benz, Chair

Mass and Shadow is a book of prose poems centered around the death of a mother and the maturation of a her son. It investigates what it means to be Chicano in suburban California, as well as the toll disease has on family. In the preface, the author presents his poetic aesthetic as well as the themes of the book: family dynamics, disease, religion, and class dynamics. 

Getting to Denver: Instructor Participation in the Design of Standardized Writing Program Assessment Technologies

Soha Turfler, Rhetoric & Writing

Cristyn Elder, Chair

This dissertation presents a framework for writing instructor participation in the design of writing program assessment technologies. I base this framework on a case study into the participation of 16 non-tenure track (NTT) and graduate teaching assistant (GTA) writing instructors in the design of a final portfolio assignment prompt for the first-year composition (FYC) program at the University of New Mexico (UNM). I specifically question how Writing Program Administrators (WPAs) and assessment designers can address the needs, interests, and values of writing instructors in the design of writing program assessment technologies, including the important need for agency and professional autonomy. Relying on Broad's Dynamic Criteria Mapping and Wenger's social theories of community and participation, I present and analyze a methodology for shaping instructor participation in the design process. Finally, I present findings relating instructors' participation to the concept of writing assessment validity. 


Dissonances of Dispossession: Narrating Colonialism and Slavery in Expansion of Capitalism

W. Oliver Baker, American Literary Studies (Mellon Fellowship)

Jesse Alemán, Chair

This project studies how ethnic American literature of the long nineteenth century represents the relationship between the dispossession of lands and lives—the histories of settler colonialism and slavery—and the making of democracy and capitalism in the United States. We often think of this relationship in terms of temporally distinct stages in which the formal equality of democracy and the marketplace overcome and thus leave behind the direct domination of colonization and enslavement. However, I focus on how the early novels of Indigenous, African, and Mexican American writers from the period of manifest destiny to the New Deal era represent the ways colonial and racial dispossession are not overcome by but in fact underpin and cohere liberal democracy and its market economy. I argue that the formal dissonance of these early novels—the way the narrative and aesthetic structures of these works contain irresolvable tensions and oppositions that foreclose harmony or unity in their formal visions or experiences—embodies how the social cohesion, cooperation, and consent required for liberal democracy and the wage labor relation are produced through and continue to depend on Native dispossession and anti-Black subjection. In doing so, they serve as a key literary history or archive of narrative forms mapping a formative period in the history of racial capitalism. These early novels reveal how whiteness and settler sovereignty serve as the linchpins of capitalism. That is, they demonstrate how the violence of anti-Indianness and anti-Blackness generates the forms of unity among settlers that help overcome the contradictions of US capitalism in ways that enable its meteoric expansion in the long nineteenth century when the United States transforms from a settler colony into a settler empire at the center of the world system in the twentieth century. In this way, my project contributes to how we understand race and capitalism. It shows not only how capitalism depends on producing racial, colonial, gender, and sexual difference, but also how the ability for capitalism to expand in the face of its internal conflict between labor and capital is made possible through this unity among settlers generated by colonization and enslavement.

By Talon and By Tooth: Disaster Culture, American Literary Naturalism, and the Aesthetic of (Dis)integration

Vincent Basso, American Literary Studies (Bilinski Fellowship)

Jesse Alemán, Chair

This study demonstrates how American literary naturalism, roughly between 1870-1910, and U.S. print culture more generally, projected an aesthetics of (dis)integration. The term (dis)integration is particularly useful in thinking through the ways traumatic and disintegrative episodes coordinate and integrate U.S. publics. I periodize this work in the turn-of-the-century because it was then that realist literature coincides with the expansion of the national press and new media technologies like photography and film, all of which facilitated the widespread dissemination of crisis narratives, marking the period as the advent of what is popularly referred to as disaster culture in the United States. Through these technologies, I further argue that social and environmental crises underwent a widespread cultural sublimation into entertainment commodities and thereby normalized statist socioeconomic control. I apply the logic of social ecology to critique how U.S. literary naturalism and print culture responded to the naturalization and spectacle of poverty, addiction, racial violence, and natural disasters. My analysis also demonstrates how realist authors represent what I term negative ecologies, diegetic worlds characterized by replicative systems of social and environmental violence. I contend that literatures oriented to social activism only persevere beyond their own ideological constraints when they resist utopian visions and instead effectuate traumatic ambiguities that allow for the creative re-imagining of social futures.

Traveling Light

Tatiana Duvanova, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

The following manuscript contains a novella and a short story collection, accompanied by a critical preface. The novella focuses on three young women who go to China to be foreign language teachers at a Chinese University and, due to a mix up, end up living in the same apartment over the course of one semester. The three heroines come from troubled background and engage in various self-distracting behaviors until they begin to heal and forge their own path in life.

The short stories in the collection deal with various subjects and themes, such as consumerism, environmental destruction, and commodification of women and nature.

Material Matters: Paratextual Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Indigenous Book History

Amy Gore, American Literary Studies

Jesse Alemán, Chair

Material Matters: Paratextual Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Indigenous Book History, focuses on Indigenous authors during the long nineteenth century, from 1772 to 1936, to examine the known “firsts” of Indigenous literature. Starting with the first book published by a Native author and moving to other first entries into Indigenous literary production, I argue that the reprints, editions, and paratextual elements of Indigenous books embody a frontline of colonization as Indigenous authors battle the public perception of Indigenous books and negotiate the representations of Indigenous bodies.

The Chaotic Domestic: Tracing Affect in Representations of Nation, Class, and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Laboring-Class Women's Writing

Kelly J. Hunnings, British & Irisish Literary Studies

Gail Houston, Chair

My dissertation traces a term I call the “chaotic domestic” in the writing of a collection of eighteenth-century women laboring-class writers: Mary Barber, Mary Collier, Mary Leapor, Ann Yearsley, and Janet Little. The chaotic domestic in the hands of these writers is multi-layered and affect-driven, focusing as they do on issues regarding nation, class, and gender. As both a poetic trope and the seeming natural and dynamic state of the domestic sphere, the image of the domestic that this set of writers represents and defines is turbulent, unruly, and one that deals with the tangled web of local and global, public and private, gendered and classist identity politics. Most importantly, I seek to demonstrate how the chaotic domestic serves as something these writers do to subvert class and gender systems that affect their public and private lives.

Re-thinking the Weird (in the) West: Multi-Ethnic Literatures and the Southwest

Jana Koehler, American Literary Studies (Hector Torres Fellow)

Melina Vizcaíno-Alemán, Chair

My dissertation examines the genre of weird fiction, specifically texts that engage the concept of the Weird West. While authors such as Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft are often seen as the founders of this genre, I argue that ethnic and women writers, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ishmael Reed, Leslie Marmon Silko, Lucha Corpi, and others, explore the hidden histories of the West and Southwest in ways that incite a rethinking of the weird. Most importantly, I seek to demonstrate how the weird is not only a literary genre but a literary aesthetic and methodology that women and ethnic writers deploy against violent patriarchy and white supremacy in addition to misleading and dangerous fantasies of the Old West.

Female Protagonist Mega-Archetypes: A Study in Medieval European Romances

Doaa Omran, Medieval Literature

Anita Obermeier, Chair

Despite the claim that structuralism has sung its swan song, my research offers new insights in the field of structuralism through archetypal criticism by exploring four female hero mega-archetypes as narrative structures inspired by the Qur’an and the Bible. These scriptural narratives offer tenets, based on narratives and motifs, that, as structural units, create and identify mega-archetypes. This study posits how, rather than being extensions of existing structuralist taxonomies on the male hero monomyth, the female mega-archetypes enrich that monomythical narrative. This work details the structure of the mega-archetypes Zulaikhah (Potiphar’s wife), Sarah and Hagar, the Virgin Mary, and Queen of Sheba,. A number of medieval European romances, specifically Arthurian, aptly illustrate each of these mega-archetypes and confirm how each crosses culture, time, and race.

675 Days: Stories Queer Kids Tell Themselves

Hayley Peterson, Creative Writing

Gregory Martin, Chair

This is a full-length memoir and cultural commentary that explores sex and gender, sexuality and queerness, and sexual assault and harassment. Specifically, it focuses on how my upbringing in a conservative suburb of Portland, Oregon, with politically conservative, but sexually liberal parents, and the rhetoric of third-wave feminism, forced me to question what it truly means to be a “strong, independent woman.”

The book follows my coming of age as a queer woman. I explore topics such as: porn, BDSM and kink, faking orgasms, consent and coercion, and how faux-empowerment has led to low self-worth for girls in my generation. I also explore the ways in which third-wave feminism has contributed to performative female sexuality and self-objectification, and the ways in which queerness and kink can provide a better framework for sex.

Multimodal Composition and Digital Technology: Investigating the Out-of-Class Experiences of Students in a First-Year Composition Class

Jennifer Morgan Sims, Rhetoric & Writing

Tiffany Bourelle, Chair

This study explores how first-year students in a multimodal composition class use digital technology outside of class to complete their projects. The tendency in Composition studies to characterize students as “self-teaching” users of technology may obscure complex out-of-class experiences, so this study analyzes data from project reflections of 19 first-year students completing digital multimodal compositions to gain insight into their practices. Qualitative analysis reveals that the technical problems students encountered tended to be frequent and repetitive, and some problems were exacerbated by conflicts between the assignment requirements and the capacity of the technology required. Students tended to use trial-and-error methods in response to problems, and they frequently switched to another program rather than solve the problem at hand. Going forward, instructors should dialogue with students about the advantages and drawbacks of technology, encourage a variety of technology and composition types, and assess projects using technology criteria and with the help of technology-focused student reflections.

Calling All Corpses: An Exmaination of the Treatment of the Dead in Old English Literature

Jessica Troy, Medieval Studies

Jonathan Davis-Secord, Chair

The care and disposal of the dead bodies, an unavoidable reminder of one’s mortality, rarely receives in-depth literary attention. In early medieval England, the Anglo-Saxons dealt with corpses but seldom discussed the undertaking in written documents. Instead they focused on the grandiose deeds of heroes like Beowulf and the holy lives of revered saints.

This dissertation examines various genres of Old English literature to identify times when authors discuss corpses and to what end these discussions led. Hagiographers, for example, describe the corpses of certain saints such as Æthelthryth and Edmund at length while the bodies of other saints are virtually ignored post-mortem. Their burials, such as that of Cecilia, may be only one half-line in length while the description of Æthelthryth’s corpse includes burial, exhumation, discovery of incorruption, and reburial. Her dead body receives almost as much attention as does her living body. Both women uphold their chastity and virginity throughout their lives, but it is only Æthelthryth’s corpse which receives attention. Edmund’s dead body is also given great attention, but his purity is not of primary concern. In my dissertation, I examine the discussion of corpses by various authors within hagiography as well as non-hagiographical texts, identify discrepancies in gender and social standing which may contribute to the length of the authors’ discussion, and use the Anglo-Saxon culture as a basis to explain why corpses such as those of Beowulf, Grendel, Æthelthryth, and Edmund take center stage but a battlefield full of fallen soldiers, Grendel’s mother, and Cecilia receive less than two lines of text.

Multilingual Writers and Online Instruction: Expanding Our Theoretical and Instructional Frameworks

Mariya V. Tseptsura, Rhetoric & Writing

Todd Ruecker, Chair

This dissertation is based on a year-long mixed-methods study of linguistically diverse students in one online composition program. It focuses on the experiences of students and instructors from 27 online sections of first and second-year college writing courses. Using student and instructor surveys and interviews, it analyzes how second language writers’ success was affected by the online environment, especially by the issues of technology and digital divide, students’ online identity construction, and the lack of authentic online classroom learning communities. The manuscript provides a broader overlook of students’ experiences across linguistic backgrounds and uses four case studies to offer a detailed, in-depth account of four multilingual students’ paths through their online writing courses. This dissertation provides writing instructors and administrators with recommendations to re-envision online writing courses, mobilizing the affordances of online venues to promote the success of students from all language backgrounds.

American Yogi

Lydia Wassan, Creative Writing

Gregory Martin, Chair

An investigation of the story of Wassan Singh, a spiritualist in the 1920s.


"Enough of Thought, Philosopher!": Emily Brontë's Interrogation of Death

Katherine Alexander, British & Irish Literary Studies

Gail Houston, Chair

The year 1847 marked the appearance of Wuthering Heights on the literary scene. Writing under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell, Emily Brontë soon became known as the “Sphynx (sic) of Literature” following the publication of the culminating masterpiece of her literary career. Although she was not a trained philosopher, her drawings, poems, letters, devoirs, and only novel offer an organic approach to philosophical matters, particularly in her engagements with the meanings of time and space and her interrogations of death.

Surrounded by the pervasive presence of death from her earliest years and beyond, Brontë moved to rigorous interrogations of the afterlife in her writing beginning with explorations of the Bible and organized religion. Not finding answers there, she turned to Nature and the tenets of Stoicism that self-sufficiency, delayed fulfillment, and an afterlife in which the spirit is not restricted to an unfathomable heaven. Ultimately, she envisioned a world where any gap between the spatio-temporal and spiritual could be traversed thus eliminating the barriers between the two realms. The cosmos that Brontë constructs is an immanent space where any divine presence is manifested in the random workings of Nature. The wild moors behind the Haworth Parsonage represented this space, both literally and metaphorically. She often features windows to mark permeable barriers between two spaces and powerful storms to move her characters through time and space. Thus, a powerful storm on the moors transports Catherine Earnshaw, Brontë’s conflicted heroine of Wuthering Heights, from the afterlife back to her childhood home where she discovers a male visitor in her ontological space. When he shatters the window glass, she grasps the opportunity to intervene in her own story. This is the extraordinary event that sets the tone for the discussion that features major developments in Brontë’s intellectual and artistic journey as well as her protofeminist and protomodern contributions to literature.

No scholar to date has examined the life and oeuvre of Emily Brontë in this manner. This study offers an enriching exploration of the powerful framework that she constructs in her philosophical interrogations of death.

Body as News

Colby Gates, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

This poetry collection deals with the intersections of sexuality, spirituality, and the physical body. The work is centered in the examination of relationships that range from the personal, intimate, familial, and religious. The poems are often, though not always, confessional in nature. I am interested in exploring tensions between content, form, and style to create meaning. The work in the manuscript balances itself between realms of magic, dream, and physical and psychological reality. My intention with this collection is to evoke a space for psychic reckoning and a sense of human understanding. My hope is that the work resists isolation or separation— and instead provides opportunities for closeness, recognition, and intimate dialectic between the reader and the work.

Accidental Curators

Steven D. Howe, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

The goal of this manuscript is to construct an essay collection representing the various essay styles I enjoy. The essays track the narrator from childhood to adulthood through various situations, while coalescing around the theme of how memory and experience of youth impact decisions and actions later in life. I show how memory is translated into action, how we choose to ignore/fight some memory and experience, but embrace others when it comes to important moments in our lives, such as confronting social issues, addressing insecurities as a parent, dealing with grief and loss, etc.

Several essays are connected by the thread of growing up in poverty with an estranged, alcoholic father, and how these memories influenced my approach to fatherhood. My father was mostly absent growing up, but the moments we were together were often defined by emotional abuse toward my mother, my siblings, and me. In addition to family issues, I delve into social justice themes, such as poverty, racism, and LGBTQ acceptance. Regardless of the subject, all essays dip back and forth between childhood and adulthood and contain memories and/or experiences reflected upon by the adult narrator. Even in the more research-based work, this reflection is present. In keeping with the thematic preoccupation of memory, I experiment with multiple forms of the essay; traditional, segmented, research-based, etc.

Material Culture in Religious Narratives of the Old English Exeter Book

Justin Larsen, Medieval Studies (Bilinski Fellowship)

Jonathan Davis-Secord, Chair

The term “material culture” represents many different approaches and schools of thought across multiple academic disciplines, but its place in the study of medieval literature is particularly difficult to ascertain. The long tradition of simply using the archaeological record to “fill in” gaps left in the textual historical record does little to expand our understanding of the place that these objects actually occupied in the users’ daily lives, nor does it allow us to make greater connections between the texts, their audiences, and their broader environment. Likewise, the role of the text and its reception has a great deal to do with the physical attributes of the object in which that text is recorded. An examination of this intersection of text and object can thus provide us with a clearer picture of daily life and thought in pre-Conquest England

This dissertation examines the ways in which references to objects of material culture are used in the context of the first five poems of the Old English Exeter Book, as well as the impact of the Book as a physical thing upon the poetry. After establishing a list of twenty categories of material culture derived from the text of the Exeter Book itself and assigning each reference to material culture to one or more of these categories, the larger patterns of usage become visible, making apparent the thematic and structural functions of such references. Likewise, by examining the physical nature of the Exeter Bookand the roles it has played throughout its millennium of history, we gain insight into the ways in which the Book was valued and used. Taken together, twenty-first-century readers can use this analysis to gain a greater understanding of the importance of things in the context of pre-Conquest England, perhaps even including the purpose for which the Exeter Book was assembled.

Sunshine '89

David O'Connor, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

Sunshine ’89 is a coming-of-age-novel, set in Canada in 1989, this creative work explores the travel of a young adoptee from a remote outpost to the bourgeois center of the country in order to pursue a life in the theatre. What ensues is a mentor-apprentice story exploring art, race, sexuality, performance, aging, dementia, alcoholism, politics, Canada, and other theme. Above all, a page- turner and picaresque romp meant to entertain and challenge.

Holy Body, Holy Place: The Veneration of St. Swithun from the Old Minster to Winchester Cathedral

Abigail Robertson, Medieval Studies (Bilinski Fellowship)

Jonathan Davis-Secord, Chair

By considering the way that medieval people would have responded to the hagiography, relics, and shrine of St. Swithun based on their experience as readers and pilgrims, this project will survey the rationale behind the veneration of a saint whose life was largely unknown yet who was ardently beloved and honored in death. That there is not any book-length scholarship dedicated to St. Swithun or his cult aside from Lapidge’s edition, The Cult of St. Swithun, further demonstrates the way that this project will fill a gap in scholarship about the history and sociocultural relevance of this still-famous saint. My dissertation paints a picture of how St. Swithun’s afterlife affected the ecclesiastical communities at Winchester and how the cult of the saint developed and changed in Winchester and beyond through the end of the medieval period. By considering this, I argue that the architectural features of the original Saxon cathedral, the Old Minster (particularly after the cathedral was rebuilt in the late-eleventh century), and eventually the Norman Winchester Cathedral compelled visitors to the saint’s shrine to reenact Swithun’s translatioand thus fundamentally connected Winchester as a locusto Swithun’s virtusin an experiential way; as a result, pilgrimage to Winchester was a necessary component for any medieval person who aspired to venerate Swithun.

Triangle: A Novella with Stories

Faerl Torres, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

This novella and short story collection is a work of fiction, which addresses themes of love, loss, loyalty, friendship, fidelity, and self-discovery. The main novella, Triangle is a coming of age story that follows Francis, the protagonist, as he struggles to break from his childhood relationships and the role he's occupied and to decide who he wants to be on his own. "Peeling Doves" is a story about lost innocence as two young sisters face off with malice for the first time. "Strawberry Harvest" is a story about Ava, a woman who is counting on her transition into motherhood to escape from the purposeless life she detests. When she begins to miscarry her baby she must find hope within herself. "Batman" is a story about Bruce, a young man choosing to reveal the truth of his abusive childhood and shed light on the past he's tried to keep shadowed.

Raised by the River

Crystal Zanders, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

Raised by the River is a collection of poems exploring the themes of historical trauma, family dynamics, racial tensions, child abuse, and education. Several poems explore the culture and history of the Deep South with an emphasis on Mississippi. Slavery is also a recurring theme as well as the vestiges of it that continue to plague the South in the form of racism and poverty. Parents and grandparents play a large role as well. The collection ends by exploring complicated grief and the maturation that occurs after loss.


Neither Surrogate Nor Complement: The Long Life of Visual Narratives

Ann L. D'Orazio, British & Irish Literary Studies (Bilinski Fellowship)

Jonathan Davis-Secord, Chair

Visual narratives are contested territory. They require tools from a variety of academic disciplines, and they defy the usual sets of interpretive strategies and systems of nomenclature in traditional humanities disciplines. This dissertation fills in one of the missing approaches to visual narratives; that is the long historical, interconnected view that renders visible significant connections among graphic narratives from the medieval manuscript to the contemporary comic book and graphic novel. The project articulates a theory of the long material and cultural life of visual narratives in a variety of media forms, including the manuscript, the early printed book, the lithograph series, and the comic book. The project records and embraces the preponderance of narrative images in a variety of media forms, and in doing so, argues that visual narratives are both typical methods of storytelling, and that their ubiquity has been used to create and disseminate narratives to larger groups of the public rather than small coterie groups. The typically popular and topical, and sometimes didactic nature of visual narratives makes them especially suited to a sort of populist politics even before the introduction of print and the advent of postindustrial mass culture. This project advances an understanding of all producers of visual narratives as laborers in a persistent mechanism of collective production, which remains present throughout all of the media examined in the dissertation.

The dissertation covers a temporally wide range of materials not only to prove the pervasiveness and intelligibility of narrative images across a variety of eras and media forms, but also to demonstrate repeated, often recursive, patterns of making and dissemination common to these different periods and forms. The geographic and cultural range is not as wide, owing much more to the time and space limitations of the dissertation rather than anything else. The project examines commonalities not to make a flattening gesture, but to reverse the institutional tendency of literary studies to undervalue or ignore typical, common works.

Invention, Integration, and Engagement With/In an Engineering Student Organization

Brian Hendrickson, Rhetoric & Writing

Charles Paine, Chair

This dissertation draws from a three-year study of writing and rhetorical engagement in an engineering student organization at a university in the southwestern United States. I describe how students in the organization use writing to undertake a water quality program in an indigenous territory in Bolivia. I describe the student organization as a boundary-zone activity between its parent organization, the college of engineering, and its community and non-governmental organization partners. I provide a narrative of the organization as a site of rhetorical engagement, from the beginnings of the water quality program in 2007, through a 2014 partnership with a capstone design course in civil engineering, to a 2015 assessment trip to Bolivia. Employing expansive developmental research, an interventionist methodology derived from cultural-historical activity theory, I analyze observation notes, interview transcripts, and textual artifacts. The textual artifacts include the student organization’s correspondence, reports, field books, journals, promotional materials, websites, and informational architecture. I also analyze curriculum maps, the capstone course’s syllabus and assignment guidelines, and all of the correspondence and assignment drafts produced by the capstone team. I describe the manner in which writing both requires and facilitates the internalization of social motive, or a conceptualization of the contradictions within an activity system and between it and its neighbor activities. This conceptualization functions in effect as a recognition of rhetorical exigence. I further describe how students, faculty, and professional engineers must internalize the need to vertically and horizontally integrate the boundary-zone activity of the student chapter through explicitly intentional dialogic writing activity. Through my research, I work with the students to reinterpret obstacles as opportunities for building partnerships across and beyond the curriculum toward a more holistic approach to rhetorically engaged learning aligned with the aims of a twenty-first century liberal education. Based on my findings, I recommend that even within a curricular environment not immediately amenable to vertical and horizontal integration, the associated contradictions can be treated as exigences for writing-intensive, rhetorically engaged learning.

The Price of Admission

Catherine Hubka, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This work of creative non-fiction is a memoir of the writer’s experiences as a recovering alcoholic who, early in recovery, became involved with a married man in Alcoholics Anonymous while she herself was married, sparking a marital, mid-life, and identity crisis. The protagonist proceeds to break numerous taboos, both within the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and within society, leading to unhealthy enmeshment with the married man and further disillusionment with herself. Two years into her recovery, one of her children dies tragically. Her grief over the loss of her son further alienates her from both family and herself until finally, she finds herself broke, isolated and homeless. Her next move is transgressive, but paradoxically liberates her from the unhealthy entanglement with the married man and becomes a vehicle not only back to her family, but also to herself.

The Magic Weave, A veil is also a weave

Paula Hughson, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

The author introduces her poems and illustrates her development as a poet, somewhat later in life, drawing from her early experiences in the Caribbean. A central thesis is the author’s conviction, based on experience, that it is possible to arrive at beauty and clarity of thought, even when departing from a painful place of perceived imperfection. Emphasis is placed on the translations such as between chaos and order and between the author’s Spanish culture an Spanish language and her English medium of communication. The author illustrates aspects of theme, form, language and sound, how poems think, in her poems, contrasting also with the works of other poets who have been major influences, particularly William Carlos Williams and Kay Ryan.

Storyless: A Memoir

Ana June, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

In May 2002, during an argument with my fiancé, Chris, about a small amount of money, I punched a wall and broke my hand. In that one moment of overwhelm I was angry, but even more than that I felt somehow disconnected from myself. I felt, paradoxically, as though I was not actually the one driving my fist into the wall. I’d never been good at handling conflict; nearly every time I became embroiled in an argument I had a sensation that the floor was opening up beneath me and that I was floating away. But when I punched the wall I also felt something I couldn’t wrap my head around until much later: I felt entirely “storyless.” At the time I understood this feeling primarily by what had happened thirteen months earlier, when my husband Malcolm went home with another woman after work. But when I started following the threads backwards, I found so much more. In this work, I excavate the effects of my parents' divorce, a variety of abusive high school relationships, rape, and abortion. I explore what it means to become a mother in the aftermath of trauma, and then survive the end of my first marriage that fell to pieces under the very same roof where my parents’ marriage ended.

In the end, I learn that I was never storyless at all, but that I had to find my own voice so I could stop lifting away from myself, seal up the earth beneath my feet, and tell my story on my terms.

Under the Rainbow

Celia Laskey, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

Big Burr, Kansas, is the most homophobic town in the USA. As Under the Rainbow opens, a task force arrives to try to change that. A clash of cultures follows, forcing the characters to see themselves and their world in new ways.

Each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view—some from the town, some from the task force. As the book progresses, characters reappear and intersect in ways that illuminate more about them. For example, one story is about a task force member whose cat is kidnapped by their neighbor. A later story explores a deep friendship between the aforementioned task force member and an elderly Big Burr woman living in a nursing home. Under the Rainbow runs the gamut from gravity to levity, from desperation to hope, showing the universality of each person’s experience.

From the Kingdom of the Lost

Lawrence Reeder, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

From the Kingdom of the Lost is a collection of poems where the speaker examines his memories associated with his father’s stage four cancer diagnosis that leads to his eventual death.

Throughout the book, a boy character appears and serves as a stand-in for where memory and emotion have been distorted by the trauma of the father’s decline. The interaction between the boy character poems and the dying father poems drives the narrative forward. Additionally, there are contemplative poems that serve to assess the personal beliefs and identity of the speaker. By the end, the speaker has assessed how the grieving process is affected by trauma, religious devotion, and social disparities.

n between the boy character poems and the dying father poems drives the narrative forward. Additionally, there are contemplative poems that serve to assess the personal beliefs and identify of the speaker. By the end, the speaker has assessed how the grieving process is affected by trauma, religious devotion, and social disparities.

West by Midwest

Lucas Shepherd, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

His family died in a car accident, but the vehicular mayhem of demolition derby still attracts former aircraft mechanic Sid Rivers. Rules of the road change on the track: you must crash. In between county fair derbies, Sid hunts for the hit-and-run driver who killed his family, but everything changes the night he gives a ride to the wrong hitchhiker: Eden, a recovering meth addict on the run. With her in tow, Sid must dodge a crucible of crooked cops, ex-football stars, and a taxidermist who doesn’t limit his work to the animal kingdom. Just before Sid ditches his troublesome new passenger, he learns she may hold the key to his past. But with everyone gunning for them, will he survive long enough to learn who killed his family? And will the answer help mend his life or cause a deeper spiral? After all, crashing cars is easier than putting them back together... West by Midwest, a neo-Western crime thriller, explores regret, guilt, and second chances in a land where war comes second nature and peace must be wrestled to the ground.

Devilish Leaders, Demonic Parliaments, and Diabolical Rebels: The Political Devil and Nationalistic Rhetoric from Malmesbury to Milton

Karra Shimabukuro, British & Irish Literary Studies

Anita Obermeier, Chair

Throughout its history, England and its writers have created its national identity out of thin air. Some writers such as William of Malmesbury and John Milton have consciously constructed their imagined Englands, while other authors during the medieval and early modern periods are subtler, but whose works reflect the historical and cultural moment, the fears, desires, and anxieties about kingship, tyranny, heirs, and stability, that existed during that time. Little scholarship has focused on the devil’s role in these constructions, his political nature, and how this nature is used in constructing nationalistic arguments. This devil can lead kings, nobles, and clergymen astray, resulting in devilish leadership, as seen in Malmesbury’s Gesta regum Anglorum but devils can be humans who act as devilish leaders, as seen William Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV and Macbeth. Part of the danger of human devils is that they reflect fears that the threat, the devil, could be anyone. Þe Deulis Parlement and Paradise Lost both feature actual devils, who counter the authority of God and his structures, tempt others with their demonic speech, attempt to create their own demonic structures, and incite rebellion. It is worth noting that while Chapter One focuses on threats to the nation, as does Chapter Four, Chapters Two and Three construct the demonic as the people and structures who counter the power structure and authority of the monarchy, not the collective of the people.

Every Last Bad Time

Jason Thayer, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This memoir investigates themes of loss and adjustment, the ways in which we recalibrate in the wake of grief. After losing his father at seven years old, and then two of his best friends in car wrecks later in life, our narrator searches for closure, for ceremony that might make sense out of every last bad time.

Embodying the West: A Literary and Cultural History of Environment, Body, and Belief

Julie Williams, American Literary Studies (Bilinski Fellowship)

Jesse Alemán, Chair

My dissertation challenges the dominant narrative identity about Western embodiment and opens the field of Western literary studies as it explores what the West looks like to women writers for whom it is not a space of regeneration through violence. I argue that women’s writing reconceptualizes Western literature, creating a counter-narrative about American identity by shaping a space for and a discourse about the embodied experiences that have been marginalized, silenced, and ignored. Through examining discourses of health and embodiment in women’s writing about the American West from the 1880s to the present day, my study brings together a diverse archive of narratives about bodies that have been excluded from cultural conceptions of the West: women with non-normative gender and sexual identities, American Indian women writers, atomic protestors and atomic beauty queens, and people with disabilities. My project drafts a new paradigm as it thinks of embodiment in the West, one that recognizes the body as both a physical object and a political one, and argues that the physical body holds meaning for the republic and its values. I focus on the tactics of storytelling and community building to disrupt dominant narratives that limit perceptions and representations of Western embodiment and what meanings that holds in our culture. The chapters are organized around themes that drive different manifestations of embodiment: alternative models of gender and sexual expression in chapter one, how the negotiation of language creates new modes of belonging in the stories of American Indian women’s embodied experiences in chapter two, the move from the West as a space of nuclear pageantry to one of protest in chapter three, and expressions of disability that push back against an ablest view of the West in chapter four. Chapters are not ordered chronologically; rather, they present different topics of embodiment and follow these threads through time to tease out the changing cultural landscape of Western embodiment. “Embodying the West” addresses a blind spot in Western literary and cultural history as it constructs an alternate genealogy of writers to make legible non-normative conceptions about the West and the bodies that inhabit it.

On Leaving

Charles Wormhoudt, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

The following book of poems is broken into four sections themed on air travel to reflect the manuscript’s title and primary preoccupation: leaving, for better or worse, and the ensuing journeys. The sections are “Departure,” “Baggage,” “Layover,” and “Arrival.” Inherent in this structure is also something of a narrative arc—a classical story structure that suggests continuity (of plot or character) and change. It is a book of lyric poems, however, and so it resists conforming entirely to the narrative mode, even as it embodies the questions at the heart of its structure: what causes one to leave a person or place, when is it time to, and who or what is left behind? What changes in the process of leaving? Where does one end up, and can one return home?


From Recovery to Discovery: Ethnic American Science Fiction and (Re)Creating the Future

Daoine Bachran, American Literary Studies (Mellon Fellowship)

Jesse Alemán, Chair

My project assesses how science fiction by writers of color challenges the scientific racism embedded in genetics, nuclear development, digital technology, and molecular biology, demonstrating how these fields are deployed disproportionately against people of color. By contextualizing current scientific development with its often overlooked history and exposing the full life cycle of scientific practices and technological changes, ethnic science fiction authors challenge science’s purported objectivity and make room for alternative scientific methods steeped in Indigenous epistemologies. The first chapter argues that genetics is deployed disproportionally against black Americans, from the pseudo-scientific racial classifications of the nineteenth century and earlier through the current obsession with racially tailored medicine and the human genome. I argue that the fiction of Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, and Andrea Hairston reveals the continuing scientific racialization of black Americans and complicates questions of humanity that still rise from genetic typing and medical testing. Chapter 2 interrogates the nuclear cycle, revealing what has been erased—the mining of uranium on the Navajo Nation, nuclear testing on Paiute and Shoshone land in the United States, similar tests on Indigenous soil in Kazakhstan, and nuclear waste buried in the New Mexico and Texas deserts. I contend Leslie Marmon Silko, William Saunders, and Stephen Graham Jones reveal the destructive influence of the buried nuclear cycle on Indigenous people globally, as they posit an Indigenous scientific method with which to fight through their novels. The third chapter exposes how the Latina/o digital divide in the United States elides a more disturbing multinational divide between those who mine for, assemble, and recycle the products that create the digital era and those with access to those products. From mining for rare earth elements in the Congo to assembling electronics in Mexico’s maquiladoras and “recycling” used electronics across the developing world, the novels of Alejandro Morales, Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita, and Ernest Hogan reveal the hidden price of the digital world and demand representation—digital, scientific, and historical. Chapter 4 builds on current discussions of Alex Rivera’s film Sleep Dealer to argue that Chicana/o and Indigenous authored science fiction films reveal how the global harvesting of natural resources has expanded to include life itself and organisms’ interiors. Films and other visual productions by Robert Rodriguez, Reagan Gomez, Federico Heller, Jose Nestor Marquez, Rodrigo Hernández Cruz, and Nanobah Becker predict biocolonialism’s expansion as they create worlds reflecting current practices where life forms become no more than patented, mechanized resources for neocolonial capitalist production and consumption.

Where Birds Go to Die, a Memoir

Daniel Berger, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This memoir explores the various ways the author has attempted to cope with his father's suicide and his mother's autoimmune diseases, which finally claimed her life after a 14-year fight.

A Guayaba's Heart

Melisa Garcia, Creative Writing

Steve Benz, Chair

A Guayaba's Heart is a poetry collection that is utilizes memory as a binding for the themes of language, family, and Central American landscapes, The poetry collection takes a close look at these themes through a generational lens and gives space to the unveiling of family secrets, the imaginary homeland, and interweaving binaries of language.


Brenna Gomez, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

Whistle is a blurred boundary collection of short stories and essays based on my experiences growing up in Walsenburg, Colorado. The eight distinct pieces feature similar characters and overlap thematically across both genres.

Chicana Feminist Acts: Re-Staging Chicano/a Theater from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present

Natalie Kubasek, American Literary Studies (Mellon Fellowship)

Jesse Alemán, Chair

Chicana Feminist Acts intervenes in the patriarchal forces that negate the historical presence and social agency of Chicanas on the stage of U.S. literature by recovering the transformative power of Chicana drama to enact feminist change. I position early playwrights Josephina Niggli, Estela Portillo Trambley and Teatro Chicana, alongside contemporary feminist playwright Cherríe Moraga, as part of the rich and varied history of feminist cultural production in the U.S. that challenges the systematic sexist oppression of Chicanas. My thesis is that Chicana theater stages a series of feminist “acts” that continuously re-stage Chicana subjectivity to resist fixed patriarchal and nationalist paradigms of gender and sexuality. Moreover, I maintain that, since the 1930s, Chicanas have staged feminist acts in theater that challenge dominant and Chicano gender/sex norms by imagining and performing different Chicana identities. The humanistic social scientific approach I take to this project allows the subjects of Chicana feminist theater to create its living history. Chicana theater comes alive through interviews with Chicana playwrights alongside archival investigations of photographic stills, playbills, and theater reviews. As a result, the trajectory of Chicana theater that I trace proves Mexican and Mexican American women have challenged dominant paradigms of gender and sexuality long before the 1970s’ so-called first wave of Chicana feminism. My research shows that theater has always played a transformative role in advancing the social position of Chicanas to enact social change.

Thieves' Nest

Kathryne Lim, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

Thieves' Nest is a poetry collection bound by themes of separation, detachment, landscape, and displacement. The collection is divided into three sections that mark different phases of the speaker's life, as experienced primarily through the speaker's relationship to place.

"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.

On Childhood and Other Sad Things

Matthew Maruyama, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This manuscript is an experimental and otherwise lyrical autobiography that explores the nature of childhood.

A New and Different Sun

Ann Olson, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

A New and Different Sun is a non-fiction essay collection. Essay themes concern the landscape, ideals, and politics of the American West.

"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.

Black Stone on a White Wind

Lynn Wohlwend, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

Black Stone on a White Wind is a memoir dealing with the aftermath of my fathers suicide and my search to understand who my father was after his death.


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.

A Currency of Birds

Lucy Burns, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

This collection of poetry narrates the experience of woman who has arrived in a desert city without memory of her arrival or her past. The poems explore presence through absence, loss, longing, fragmentation, and the construction of identity.

What Happens Next

Carrie Classon, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

What Happens Next is a memoir set in Nigeria, Tanzania, and the coast of Kenya. The story chronicles the author's loss of marriage, job, and home, and the journey to rediscovery of self.

The Survivors: A Novel

Jill Dehnert, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

Why are we, as a species, drawn to literature, particularly fiction? And also, why are writers drawn to tell stories? In this paper, I seek to find an answer to those questions because I think more than anything, to be able to understand your own art you must first be able to understand your desire to create art in the first place.

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.


Logan MacClyment, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

A collection of fictional short stories and screenwriting, dealing with characters who, besieged by sickness, denial, and uncertainty, try desperately to keep their heads above water. These are stories marked by sadness and loss and great hardship, both internally and externally, but more than anything they are stories of hope.

Fishers of Men

Michael Noltemeyer, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

My novel, Fishers of Men, is a historical fiction account in which 23-year-old Henry Fisher, a present-day medical student, explores the urban legends surrounding the abandoned Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, which handled one of the largest tuberculosis outbreaks in world history in the 1920s and 30s and is now allegedly among the most haunted places in the world.

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.


Sarah Sheesley, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This collection of creative nonfiction includes reflective personal essays in three parts. The first part deals loosely with my efforts to assert, define, and interrogate my sense of identity dealing primarily with childhood/adolescent experiences and reflections on my parents. The second part is dedicated to impressions from various international travel experiences, a fixation on my need for these to have some kind of meaning, my desire to understand why I travel, and my general dissatisfaction with that approach. The third part is more of an examination of where those other two parts leave me—given these contradictions, imperfections, and ongoing questioning, how to do operate at home (Albuquerque)? How do I come to terms with myself and function as a creative person? How do I balance a desire to both engage and retreat from the world? The collection investigates lyric and associative meaning through reflection and self examination.

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.


Nuclear Family

Ty Bannerman, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This dissertation explores nuclear history in New Mexico in the context of how it affected the lives of those who were ancillary to the bomb itself and its repercussions. I use my own family as a lens to explore the issues surrounding this universally important and ongoing historical event.

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.

Persons Unknown

Benjamin Dolan, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

In this memoir, I attempted to understand and rectify my own religious upbringing, my teenage addiction to pornography, and the love of literature I discovered in college with my conversion to Orthodox Christianity in my early twenties.

Animal People

Sabrina Golmassian, Creative Writing

David Dunaway, Chair

Billions of animals are killed every year based on this ethical premise: Animals are lower than humans on some abstract moral scale, and they can therefore be considered property. However, a growing percentage of compassionate and educated animal lovers and advocates reject that premise. Its now possible to live comfortably and happily without subjecting animals to fear, pain, and stress for non-essential products. Whether it be food, clothing, scientific experiment, or entertainment, alternatives now exist to take their place. A broad range of investigative journalism and scholarship have exposed the detrimental effects of the use of animals for industry. An increasingly large number of compassionate, attentive people are beginning to understand that animals, too, deserve to their life as they choose, and many of us are determined to spread the word. Animal People tells the stories of individuals who are engaging in advocacy in new ways and building a better future for animals and humans alike. Though their fields of interest and expertise may be very different — they have backgrounds in science, social media, animal husbandry, and philosophy— their stories illuminate the progress we're making in thinking about animals and interacting with them in a more positive, less-exploitative manner.'

Back 2 Life

Donna Gutierrez, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

Back 2 Life is a collection of novellas featuring a woman named Vennie Rodriguez and her two adult daughters, Socs and Sara. The woman owns a struggling beauty shop in Albuquerque's South Valley, and one day, she uncovers the body of a toddler buried in the playground across the street from her business. This event ripples through each woman leaving each to reconcile old goals and hopes for smaller, quieter existences.

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.

Jiggs and Other Stories

Vondell Jones, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

Jiggs and Other Stories represent a diverse sampling of my work as a UNM graduate student and a writer of fiction. The works presented here are a pastiche of genres that include magical realism, tragedy, absurdist fiction, and fantasy and adventure. Beyond those significant categories, however, these stories are the product of my imagination. The power of fiction itself—Id like to believe—depends upon the capacities of the mind. When knowledge, experience, restless imagination and bold creativity are combined—good fiction supersedes the boundaries of literary categorization. My intention, in part, is to have these stories serve as an homage to many of my preferred authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, Carson McCullers, John O'Hara and other American writers as well as a panoply of African, British, Irish, French, German and Russian novelists, short story writers and playwrights. The collection is prefaced by an introduction intended to give a full sense of what kind of enrichment these stories hope to achieve. Each story is summarized and examined to present an overview of the theory and the craft that defines it.

The Hat

Katherine Minkin, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

The Hat is a story about a young woman, Allison, an art teacher in Albuquerque, who goes to Chicago around the winter holidays for the funeral of her stepfather Vince, who has died suddenly of a stroke. Adding to the tension is the approach of Christmas, supposedly a happy time, and the vivid memories of a stalker boyfriend who disappeared about a year ago. Allison's past includes troubled family relationships, an ex-husband, and earlier affairs of an often destructive nature. She struggles with memories of her troubled relationship with her stepfather Vince, as well as dealing with her family's denial about it, along with a current, unknown stalker, and a new, promising relationship.

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 Great Green Wall

Catherine Pelletier, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

The Great Green Wall is a novel that explores story-telling, memory, identity, and family connections. The novel centers around a young woman named Greta and her relationship with her younger, troubled brother. Gretas younger brother, Evan, has (perhaps) murdered a local homeless man and Greta has covered it up. The siblings are locked in deceit because of this event in their early childhood. Years later, Greta is involved with a married man and Evan once again intrudes, his mental health deteriorating. Although this intrusion threatens the life that Greta is building, it offers Greta a chance to take another look at her past, to discover what really happened, and to change the course of her future.

Selections from Shadows of Clouds on the Mountain

Michael Smith, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

The following essays are all chapters from a larger work, Shadows of Clouds on the Mountains, a sort of life-spanning nonfiction Ulysses, a literary mixtape in which every chapter takes a different form, and every chapter's form is dictated by its content. These essays, or chapters, will appear, basically as is, in my book, Shadows of Clouds on the Mountains. These are stories of family, memory, suicide, mental illness, the sibling bond, marriage, children, divorce, and adulthood. These are stories of a life devoted to art and exploration.

Mommy Maladies

Nicole Vigil, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

An ambivalent mother takes a retrospective look at the costs and consequences of choosing to be a mother.


The Black Acres

Bonnie Arning, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

A creative exploration into relationships: relationships with the self, with others, and with the world.

Skinning the Deer: A Love Story

Heather Campbell, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

This dissertation consists of a novel entitled Skinning the Deer: A Love Story. Alternating between the landscapes of New Mexico and rural Maine, the novel examines the life of tortured lesbian Hannah Huff and the brutal excision of her glorious wings—those magical appendages she grew in secret—the two downy white miracles she believed would be her ticket out of Monkstown, Maine, a desperate landscape of backwoods trailers, dogs, and family members, where her only interactions are either detached or violent. While the novel alternates between Hannah as an adult and Hannah as a child, it is first and foremost a coming-of-age story and a journey into the past to reclaim lost innocence. Inspired by the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dorothy Allison, and Salman Rushdie, Skinning the Deer weaves together magical realism, trauma narrative, and myth; it is a novel about sexuality, betrayal, and what we sacrifice for redemption.

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.

The Cull

Laurel Coffey, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

The Cull concerns newlyweds who move to rural Tennessee, where the husband has accepted a position as the resident physician for a small town called Sawyer. The long-time physician for the town has retired under duress and mysterious circumstances. The novel is preceded by a critical preface.

Before You Become Improbable

Nicolas DePascal, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

Before You Become Improbable is a poetry collection that tackles issues as various as marriage, parenting, death, art, illness, and the workplace, using a mixture of formal and experimental poetry. The collection eschews sections, instead letting the poems coalesce naturally around seasonal themes. Through attention to sound, image, and tone, the collection attempts to view the everyday and mundane through a more magical and surreal lens.

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.

Morning Rituals

Nora Hickey, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

A collection of poetry exploring identity and emotion in imagined and real settings.

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.

This Side Up, Upside Down

Adam Nunez, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

This Side Up, Upside Down is a collection of one short novella and six short stories dealing with themes of guilt, disconnection, mis-creation, aging, death, grief, and time. The stories mostly follow the life of Theo Cobarde, a Mexican-American man living in the small town of Eagle, Idaho. He is concerned with the experiences of his older family members, who were all migrant farm workers in California in the mid-twentieth century. Having grown up in Idaho, Theo feels disconnected from his family, and most of all, from his father. The guilt of how he treated his aging father eats away at Theo Cobarde, causing strange occurrences in his life.

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.

The Verging Cities

Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

The Verging Cities is a collection of poems about the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua México. It is divided into four sections. The first takes place mostly in a domestic sphere exploring the relationship between the speaker and Angel. The second explores the violence of the cities from femicide to drug cartels and the effects this has on the speaker. The third is an extended poem that lyrically examines marriages and immigration through traditional epithalamia. The fourth becomes explicitly about the two cities and explores themes built around the word verge.

“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.


Domain of the Marvelous

Anastasia Andersen, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

The Domain of the Marvelous is a three-part collection of poetry. The first part, 'The Encounter of the Umbrella,' contains poems told as if dream stories, happening outside the realm of an identifiable speaker. Strangeness or absurdity with emotional regulation. These poems are rely heavily on imagery and often reflect a surreal playfulness as if resulting from surrealist word games such as Exquisite Corpse. The second section, 'Poetry is a Pipe, the innocent eye,' a more speaker begins to make various appearances. Many experiments with form including abecedarian, flush right margin, pseudo-sonnet, experiments with margins and image including found equation. 'The Game of Truth,' consists of poems that begin to explore larger themes including relationships, and the human experience such as fear, love, death, madness, and sexuality. Truth is questioned, the truth of perception, what is the truth of reality, what is the truth of this emotional experience. The three sections serve as three legs of a somewhat surreal journey. Distance, experiment, examination of truth. The preface explores influences on my writing, including Bugs Bunny cartoons and old Abbott and Costello routines. There is a close examination of four contemporary poets who I consider most influential in my work: by D.A. Powell, Dean Young, Matthea Harvey, Atsuro Riley. The preface finishes with a discussion of my own work as culmination of influences previously mentioned.

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.

When We Were Hunted

Casandra Lopez, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

When We Were Hunted is a cycle of short stories centered on the members of a California Indian/Mexican family grieving the loss of Michael, the complicated man they knew as a father and husband. The book spans four years and begins a few weeks after the death of Michael, who had been imprisoned for drug trafficking. The chapters alternates among the perspectives of Michael's daughter, Alma; his son, Eric; and wife, Lisa. While each story is self contained, the individual stories also work to contribute to the overall coherence of the collection. The collection seeks to explore issues of diaspora, migration, place, violence and grief from an Indigenous perspective.

A Falling Sky: A Novel

Richard Raab-Faber, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

In the days following the attacks of September 11th, 2001, writers of fiction and non-fiction, poets, and screenwriters struggled with how and when to put to use their craft as a way to, not only express their feelings about the event, but to do their part' to help assuage the grief felt by the nation and the world. The resultant works seemed to point toward a new literary mini-genre—Post-9/11 literature. The critical preface both coins an acronym for this literature—PoNE (for Post-Nine Eleven) and establishes a working definition of the mini-genre as 'a realist-based literature that is primarily marked by a strong use of a 'pre-packaged' central image; that deals with the emotional and psychological toll on the survivors of 9/11—both those who escaped, and the families/loved ones of the same; and finally, that is marked by an inherent tension resulting from waiting for the other shoe to drop.' The preface examines early instances of PoNE literature, including the hastily-created hand-written 'Have You Seen Me?' posters, early short published responses by established writers, journalists and poets, novels, films, and even the government-funded 9/11 Commission Report. From this analysis, a definition of Post-9/11 literature is developed. In the second part of the dissertation, an original novel, titled A Falling Sky, is presented. The novel, an example of Post-9/11 literature uses many of the hallmarks of the mini-genre including that of prepackaged images from the days surrounding the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

Some Truths, Some Lies

Suzanne Richardson, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

A collection of short stories and nonfiction essays.

The Plight of Rudy "Gordo" Sanchez and Other Stories

David Rubalcava, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

The Plight of Rudy 'Gordo' Sanchez and Other Short Stories'is a collection of one novella and nine short stories dealing with a broad range of themes like borders, immigration, race, sex, sexuality, violence, religion, spirituality, food, obsession, fetishes, and death. The stories range from sad and serious to sarcastic and darkly humorous to happy and joy-filled to really quite disturbing. They are meant to be raw, sexual, grotesque, violent, beautiful, sweet, delicious, and painful. The characters are gay men in love, a reality television show judge, a bench, feminine little boys, a sadistic group therapy leader, a man dying of AIDS, Frida Kahlo, a piñata maker, a female prostitute with supernatural powers, and an overweight taco truck chef with a special soul. The Stories are set in diverse places like Ciudad Juárez, El Paso (TX), Gun Hole (a fictional city in the Texas Bible Belt), Denver (CO), St. Louis Park (MN), Minneapolis (MN), San Francisco (CA), Barcelona, Albuquerque (NM), and Trinidad (CO). The stories all speak to the human condition as well as what it is to be human physically, biologically, and genetically. Love is at the core of most of these stories, not just romantic love but familial and also the love of self. Craft wise, the stories use the idea of central image, some play with form and structure, some use magical realism, the point of view varies from story to story, and the novella plays with time, setting, plot, and footnotes. Several pieces are still works in progress, but the idea behind this collection is my sincere attempt to affect my reader, to make my reader feel some specific emotion from the characters and language of each story.

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.

Reconstructing My Mother

Jennifer Simpson, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

Set against the backdrop of turning 40, watching her sister battle cancer, and losing her father, Reconstructing My Mother is a memoir chronicling Jennifer's journey to get to know her mother who died from cancer when Jennifer was 13, and her journey to get to know herself.

Close, A Family Memoir

Elizabeth Tannen, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This manuscript braids together two narratives. One is about my immediate family: my father had three boys—my older brothers—with his first wife, who died, after two years of illness, when my brothers were young. I am his only child with my mother, who was twenty-six when she married my dad and took on the role of parenting the boys. The second narrative traces my fixation, as a young, single woman, on romantic love: I write a blog about relationships, and have long been consumed by a search for connection shaped by the isolation I've felt within my family. The arc of the second narrative ties into the first as the narrator, after years of feeling afraid to write about the family and focusing on relationships instead, finally begins to tell the family's story—to her surprise, engaging them in that process.

Winter Bird

Tanaya Winder, Creative Writing

Diane Thiel, Chair

Winter Bird is a collection of fifty-one poems that delve into themes of loss, longing, and trauma present in Native American communities. Issues including suicide, alcoholism, and rape cover the historical landscape of these poems which use imagery of birds and motifs of winter, cold, and music to render the topics. Contemporary issues are also brought under the lens of these poems which add personal implications by using love poems written in first-person. Winter Bird follows a three-section format using three poems 'The Surrender to Memory,' 'What John Wayne Couldn't Have Known,' and 'The Significance of a Hanging' as titles for each section. Writing reflects reality, where through the careful choice, picking, and precision of words, we mimic control over form, trying to re-create experience, and, as with any form, something is inherently sacrificed in v that re-creation. As these poems deal with death and impermanence by incorporating art, music, and motifs of birds amongst other techniques, Winter Bird and this three-section format allows the reader to interrogate whom death/loss/trauma targets, question who is tempted by it, and hopefully by the end of it, come out with an understanding of flight\'s urgency. The first section 'The Surrender to Memory' takes the reader on a journey to the past to question what childhood experiences shape the life of an adult; the second section 'What John Wayne Couldn't Have Known' delves into historical trauma to get at Herman's claim, 'understanding of psychological trauma begins with rediscovering history" (1); the third section 'The Significance of a Hanging' culminates with the trauma and reckoning of loss. Each section uses music and art as tropes along with birds and winter as motifs to provide different vantage points into the traumas such that the reader can get closer to the re-creation of experience. Through the combination of image and text, the poems push the emotional tenor of the poems into dramatic space.

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.

For the Lost

Carrie Cutler, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

The stories of students and children who are the victims of child abuse rarely intersect in published works for a variety of reasons, including a lasting social stigma which constitutes the child and adult as suspect, because of what they survived. Children who have abuse in their backgrounds are frequently thought to be unable to transition to the professional world, through the long years necessary to finish college, and are often thought to be incapable of the feats of self-control and adaptation which are a part of academic success. They are treated and spoken of as permanently ruined adults, condemned to a life which is profoundly impaired. This is a collection of stories of children who died as a result, and the few who've made it into academia and the professional world— what it costs the adult and child to be here. In this collection, my own story and the stories of others are presented not as a cautionary tale, or even a tale of the exceptional person, but as the attempt to demonstrate the unique problems academia and the professional world offers people like me. This is the attempt to offer the victims of child abuse a narrative which demonstrates the challenges and the horrors of these experiences, and offers a pattern which victims can use to get out of the places where they are trapped. This collection is for the lost, with love, from someone who has been there.

The Magical Mystery Donkey Tour

Lucy DuPertuis, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This creative non-fiction dissertation consists of a travel memoir written while I was enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. It incorporates many letters I wrote in 1969. This manuscript consists of the first two parts of what I envision as a three-part memoir. The memoir braids present-tense (2009) and past-tense (1969) travel stories. The narrator, a sixty-three year old woman who has taken extended leave from her job in response to her lifelong urge to get 'out of the box,' takes long camping trips in the American Southwest in her pickup truck. While traveling, she reads letters she wrote about her hippie travels through North Africa forty years ago. The letters bring to mind past stories, which she interweaves with her current adventures. She reflects on the similarities and differences between her current and her former traveling self. In Part I, the narrator travels from California to New Mexico while remembering her trip from Rome to Casablanca. In Part II, on another California-New Mexico trip, she recalls traveling through southern Morocco with her young Berber lover and reflects on cultural differences and conflicts. At the end of Part II she injures her ankle and must head home. In the projected Part III, the narrator mulls over her breakup with the Berber lover and subsequent aimless existence with other hippies in Morocco; she is also dealing with her ankle injury, which has stopped her from traveling. She must come to terms with who she was 1969 and with the fact that because of her injury she can no longer use traveling to stay 'out of the box.'

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.

Across Water

Nari Kirk, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This dissertation is a collection of essays that examines the authors coming-of-age in terms of religion, race, gender, and family. Using a combination of personal experience, reflection on this experience, and outside research, these essays employ creative nonfiction strategies to find meaning and sense in the complex terrain of human existence. The recurring themes all focus on change—the author's growth from a conservative, sheltered girlhood to womanhood, when she begins cultivating her new beliefs. The questions persist of how much the past will influence the present and how much the past can, and should, be let go.

In the Clothes of Others

Jennifer Krohn-Bourgeois, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

In the Clothes of Others is a collection of poems that begins with a nontraditional evocation of the muses and is followed by three different sections of poems. The thirteen poems in first section deal with how we use narratives to understand our daily lives and how those narratives often fail. The nine poems in the second section explore unstated implications of fairy tales often from the point of view of characters within the story. The nine poems in the third section focus on myths from the Judeo-Christian, Greek and Norse traditions. These poems explore how the myths affect our view of the world and like the second section focus on the unstated implication of these stories often from the character's point of view.

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 Random Occurence of Parallel Acts

Linda Rickert, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

The essays held in this collection when viewed as a whole illustrate the destructive repetitive acts of four generations of addiction and how these acts influenced each coming generation. They also demonstrate the inability to see events clearly when in the middle of turmoil. Through the use of reflection and recollection each piece links to the others to form a progressive pattern from which family members seem unable to escape. Whether it is the power of genetics or the sway of nurture or the lack of it, the pattern suggests an inability to break the negative cycle even when the desire to do so reaches its strongest point. There is the suggestion of growth, however, threaded throughout the body of the work. This puts forward that change can be achieved and puts forward the proposal that change must be deliberate as well as earned. A sense of place vibrates throughout this collection. The coal mining area of central Pennsylvania breeds a populace of hardened citizens, people used to harsh conditions, poverty, and rage. These people continue to survive because they know nothing about giving up. Characterization may be one of this works strongest points. In addition, moments of learning, maturity, and difficult decisions reach out to touch others universally. Moments such as a father accepting his daughter's single motherhood in the sixties, of a daughter losing her animosity toward her mother when she realizes that we do what we must to survive, and the decision to stop life-saving treatment for a profoundly mentally challenged son touches lives every day. Methods of coping give the reader support and the courage to cope.

The View From Here

Samantha Tentangco, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

Set against the backdrop of both San Francisco and Los Angeles, The View From Here is a community-based novel that alternates point of view between four characters: Jackie Saunders, an overnight desk clerk searching for a purpose in life; Kayden Liu, Jackies childhood best friend, who must face a violent secret of her past before she can fully build her future; Michelle Johnson, a married businesswoman, who must allow herself to see beyond the life she's created in order to understand the life she wants; and Shannon Eiverson, a photographer with an upcoming show, who wants to 'make it' as an artist. While the novel focuses much of its attention on cheating (both the reasons we cheat ourselves and the reasons we cheat on others), at its heart, The View from Here is a novel about friendship, created homes, and the way the lives we've led keep us from living the lives we desire.

At the Rim of Vision

Melanie Unruh, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

This novel follows the lives of two protagonists, Daphne and Emily Ellis. Though their narratives are separated by 30 years, both young women must face difficult decisions as pregnant teenagers. As Daphne struggles to understand her own situation, she uncovers her deceased Aunt Emilys journals, and embarks on a journey that will unravel dark family secrets that are decades old.


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.

On Unstable Ground: A Journey in Time, Memory, and Place

Molly Beer, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

On Unstable Ground is the story of the two years I spent trying to understand and navigate El Salvador—both as a place and a history. This is not, however, a memoir, per se. Rather, it is a history told through personal narrative. Each essay-chapter revolves around a particular experience that I had living in that country—a point of contact or clash—that magnified an important aspect of El Salvadors character. Cumulatively, the essays piece together the story of a geographic journey as well as an exploration of history, a second journey that garners an evolving understanding of the events and circumstances that have shaped the nature of that place.

The Paper-Haired God

Chris Boat, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

This dissertation consists of a novella entitled The Paper-Haired God. It is the story of a man named Jason who one day (after dropping his wife Akiko off at the airport to visit friends) decides to crawl into the cabinet underneath his sink. He doesnt quite understand why he crawls under the sink, just that it is something that he needs to do. Before he realizes it, he is starving and too weak to get back out. When he feels as though he is about to disappear forever, he finds himself in a large cavern. After exploring the cavern he relives a memory from his childhood where he almost drowned in the Uji River. Then he is pulled out from under the sink by his wife. After his recovery he begins to realize that the world he left when he went under the bathroom sink and the world he came back to are not the same.

Blood Heist

Daniel Darling, Creative Writing

Daniel Mueller, Chair

A novel of fiction. John Stick, along with his two best friends, Spartacus Rex and Leon Flowers, rob a blood bank with the intent to sell the blood in Mexico. On the way, the ice cream truck that they have converted to transport the blood breaks down, and they become stranded in the desert. Stick notices that one of the bags of blood belongs to his ex-girlfriend, Cryopathria Rex, with whom he is still in love. Stick tries to take the blood back to Albuquerque out of guilt. Rex and Flowers stop him. The three men have en escalating feud, which leads to Flowers and Rex tying Stick to a tree and soaking him with several bags of blood and leaving him to die. Flowers and Rex ride south on a team of ostriches that Flowers has stolen from Crazy Patti LeBeau. Stick is rescued by a woman from Mexico named Alma. Together they pursue Flowers and Rex. On the way they encounter an alpaca farm, an Apache policeman named Chuck, the chupacabras, a vengeful Patti LeBeau, before they finally confront Rex in the Rio Grande gorge on the border of Texas and Mexico. The novel explores themes of masculinity, trauma, betrayal, friendship, and the American-Mexican border. It is constructed with particular attention to character construction and imagery. It fits into the broad category of Post-Western literature.

Dollo & Me (Aftermath with Permutations) and The Relenting

Lisa Gill, Creative Writing

Greg Martin, Chair

This dissertation is comprised of two parts. The first is called Dollo & Me (Aftermath with Permutations) and is an unconventional and nonlinear memoir addressing the aftermath of violence and the changes that are required for survival. It specifically looks at my twenties and thirties and tackles the various manifestations of trauma in my life. Two essays frame the manuscript: one as Chapter Zero and one as Chapter Oh. The body of the manuscript is contained in seventeen numerical chapters. The second part of this dissertation manuscript is comprised of a new 'poetic' play titled 'The Relenting.' The play addresses my encounter with a rattlesnake in my living room and enacts a literary and archetypal journey that could not have been undertaken without first doing the work of 'Dollo & Me.'

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.


Emily Morelli, Creative Writing

Julie Shigekuni, Chair

Motherland is a three-part collection of poetry. The first part, Foreign,' contains poems about Portugal and Brazil. The poems reflect historic events and personal observations. In the context of the collection, they serve as historical and emotional background to my Luso-American identity, working with places and events that came before me and experiences that I explore through the medium of poetry. The second section, 'Familiar,' covers the ground of childhood memory, specifically through place and people, and my adult experiences with motherhood and it surrounding events—pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, and parenting a small child. 'Unexpected,' consists of poems that are more playful in nature or that originated in a more imagined realm—poems about literary characters, found punctuation, and dreams, for instance. The three sections coalesce into a collection, progressing from a quest for understanding within a larger context in 'Foreign,' to a search for defining moments or experiences in 'Familiar,' to a sublimation of understanding or definition in 'Unexpected,' where meaning arrives rather than is sought. The preface discusses the process of writing, influences on my writing, and a close examination of poems by Sylvia Plath, Galway Kinnell, and Robert Hass.


Erika Sanchez, Creative Writing

Lisa Chavez, Chair

This dissertation consists of a poetry manuscript that primarily explores themes of class, sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity. The collection is divided into three sections. The first addresses the coming of age of the speaker in Chicago. The second primarily takes place abroad and explores romantic relationships. The third begins to delve into themes of systematic exploitation.

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.

Paydazed and a Song for Shenandoah

Richard Vargas, Creative Writing

Sharon Oard Warner, Chair

My dissertation consists of poetry and two non-fiction essays written during my enrollment in the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program at the University of New Mexico. The manuscript begins with an essay detailing the moment in my life when I started to write again, after a writer's block that lasted fifteen years, from 1980-1995. The following sections of poetry deal with issues that I consider to be main themes throughout my entire body of work: race and class. I specifically explore what it is like to be Latino and working-class at a time when the depressed economy has led to a loss of jobs not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. I give the reader my thoughts and feelings during these times of fear and racial divide, with the hope of shedding light on the common stake we all share as human beings. I close with an essay about the childhood memories I have growing up with a parent who was an addict, and how I came to realize my bitter feelings of abandonment were not the total summation of the relationship I had with my father.


Department of English Language and Literature
Humanities Building, Second Floor
MSC03 2170
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

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