Senior Critical Essays and Theses, 2013 -- 2014
Working Title: Beyond the Self: A Lacanian Study of Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery
This essay will examine Flannery O’Connor’s portrayal of mystery in her short fiction as it relates to Jacques Lacan’s concept of “the Real.” O’Connor’s nonfiction writing expresses resistance to rigid psychoanalytic interpretations of her work and discourages readers’ attempts to distill a concrete “meaning” or “point” from her stories. Instead, she claims that her stories are concerned with “that sense of Mystery which cannot be accounted for by any human formula” (Mystery and Manners 153). Lacan, similarly, was interested in the limits of human perception and expression and the inaccessibility of “the Real.” Rather than apply a psychoanalytic mold to O’Connor’s work, I intend to utilize Lacanian theory to explore Flannery O’Connor’s vision of her stories as irreducible vehicles of mystery.
Advisor: Deb Evans
Working Title: Morality Mistaken for Complacency in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day
This essay will explore the relationship between narration and morality in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Critics have traditionally identified Ishiguro’s unreliable narrative technique as a means to reveal the protagonist’s complacency in his employer’s fraternization with Nazis. I intend to prove that the characteristics that make Ishiguro’s narrator (Stevens) unreliable – especially the intense lack of discernible sociable traits and personal reflection – work not to reveal complacency but rather disassociation with Nazism. The relationship between Lord Darlington and Nazi supporters is portrayed as one of friendship and camaraderie, but Steven’s’ noticeable omission of such traits in his personal reflections reveal his moral opposition to his employer’s actions.
Advisor: Ben Graves
Working Title: Revitalizing the Robert Frost Cabin
As an interdisciplinary joint thesis with English and American Literatures and History of Art (Museum Studies track), I am writing a proposal to revitalize the college-owned Robert Frost cabin on the Homer Noble Farm. I plan to structure the proposal through examination of 1) the cabin's potential, identifying benefits for the College and community and justifying the proposal; 2) the history of the cabin, its inhabitants and contents, with a focus on Frost and his personal belongings; 3) Frost's writing and teaching while he inhabited the cabin; and 4) existing house museums (particularly author homes) and museological theories of education. My conclusion will recommend how best ot present the cabin as an educational space fostering exposure to and enthusiasm for poetry through the example and literary legacy of Robert Frost. I will also incorporate literary interpretation of Frost's poetry through curatorial supplementary materials, such as brochures or an audio tour.
Advisors: Richard Saunders and Jay Parini
Working Title: Gender in Performance: Women Playwrights and the Restoration Stage
Under a royal decree issued by Carles II in 1660, women were for the first time legally allowed to make careers of acting on, and writing for, the English stage. These theatre pioneers, along with their fellow Englishwomen, found themselves subject to a dizzying array of social strictures and codes for behavior based on their gender. To step out of socially delineated bounds could prove calamitous for women, and yet, with a newfound avenue for expression in theatrical production, those bounds would be examined and tested as never before. Blending socio-historical and literary analysis with a gender studies framework, my project will investigate the works of three women playwrights of the Restoration era -- Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn , and Susanna Centivre. Through this investigation, I will consider just how revolutionary their texts were, and the results that their texts yielded (criticism, theatrical practices, societal views, etc.) in light of the social constitution of "woman" in the seventeenth-century English gender binary. How successfully did they challenge the status quo of culturally constructed ideals of "man" and "woman," if at all? If not, did they simply serve to maintain societally delimited boundaries and definitions?
Advisor: Marion Wells
|Gemma Un-hee Kim||
Working Title: Urban Life in Rawi Hage's De Niro's Game and Cockroach
Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award as well as several other literary awards, Rawi Hage, a Beirut-born writer currently residing in Montreal, has written three novels about the cultural geography of major cities and the painful experiences of migrants. By setting his novels within the perimeter of a city, Rawi Hage has been able to explore ideas such as marginality, fragmentation of identity and the meaning of survival. This essay will examine the role of the city in De Niro's Game and Cockroach and observe the ways in which the character's movements and observations of the city are very much a reflection of the state of mind of the protagonist.
Advisor: Yumna Siddiqi
Working Title: Contemporary American Southern Environmental Writers: Exploring a New Canon
Advisor: Dan Brayton
Working Title: History, Philosophy, and Fantasy in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
My thesis explores the sources and analogues of the immensely popular series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, a contemporary fantasy and science fiction writer. The current status of critical work on Martin is next to none, so I aim to lay the basic groundwork on what directly and indirectly influenced Martin as well as what his contribution is in relation to others who have dealt with similar material. I will perform close readings of his work through this lens within three categories that exert the greatest influence on Martin's work: history, philosophy (both moral and political), and fantasy.
Advisor: Kathy Skubikowski