English Theses and Dissertations

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    The Influence of Jacob Bryant on William Blake
    (1969) Svatik, Stephen Jr.; Howard, John; English; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
    To understand William Blake's complex mythology, one must understand the sources of his theories. A primary source of mythic material in the eighteenth century was the research and writings of the antiquarians, principally of Jacob Bryant. Blake shared with the antiquarians a desire to understand the origins of man and of the development of man's political and religious institutions. But while the mythographers concentrated on giving simply a temporal account of the development of man and society, Blake expanded on their accounts of history by analyzing the importance of inner man in the development of his social institutions. In A New System, Jacob Bryant discusses three points of mutual interest for Blake. First, he dismisses Greek mythology for having corrupted the truth concerning man's past. Second, he attributes the degeneration of religion to man's error of materialism. And third, he discusses the fragmentation of society and man's subsequent fall from an earlier period of unity, freedom, and peace. Blake's writings contain concepts similar to those of Bryant, but Blake modified and refined them to fit into his unique mythological structure. Blake's most significant departure from Bryant is his paralleling of man's social and political conflicts with man's failure to maintain an equilibrium of his inner essences in his establishing a ratio between the inner man and the outer world. Blake's mythopoeic imagination surpasses those of Bryant and the antiquarians in meaning and significance when he goes on to forsee man's return to unity, to a Golden Age of freedom and peace.
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    (2023) Taha, Fatima; Ray, Sangeeta; Comparative Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Although, since the late 1980s, much attention has been paid to the woman/mother as nation trope in multicultural colonial and post-colonial scholarship, what remains largely unexplored is the concept of woman as language functioning as scaffold for a gendered, cultural-linguistic nationalism deployed by Hindu Indians in colonial India. These “language woman,” a term political scientist Asha Sarangi coined in 2009, are diametrically opposed: the feminine anthropomorphic dutiful, mother Hindi, fit to represent India, and the unruly, courtesan Urdu who has no place in the incipient nation. In the last decade, scholarly engagement with Begum Urdu has been limited to structuring this characterization as demeaning, with Indian Muslims failing to subvert the marginalized linguistic representation in the fundamentally Hindi-speaking, Hindu project of the Indian nation state. Such a gender essentialist reading of anthropomorphic Urdu perpetuates the very androcentric society-approved gender roles it seeks to denounce, aligning with colonial Indian nationalists’ and British imperialists’ myopic ideology of one appropriate type of woman. Why must the courtesan lack agency or respectability and require reformation? This project offers an alternative view of Begum Urdu, recasting the language courtesan as empowered through the application of, among others, Foucault’s theory on authorized forms of sexuality eventually rupturing societal norms combined with sociolinguist Robin Lakoff’s interpretations of authoritative woman’s language viewed from both inside and outside the socio-political frame encompassing it. Drawing on feminist, linguistic, and colonial studies and bridging them with the concept of metonymy through contiguity in prose realism, this work offer a new metaphorical reading of Muslim female characters as representing both the Indian Muslim woman and Urdu in seven Urdu prose realist works: Ratan Nath Sarshar’s Fasana-e-Azad; Abdul Halim Sharar’s Flora Florinda; Nazir Ahmed Dehlvi’s Mirat-ul Uroos, Banaat-ul Naash, Taubat-un Nasuh, and Fasana-e-Mubtala; and finally, Muhammad Rusva’s Umrao Jan Ada and Junoon-e-Intezaar in which the metaphorical language woman is transformed into a real, round character and woman in the real world who functions with authority and agency as not only a character but an author. The Muslim and Urdu-language woman who emerges from these texts in the latter half of the 19th century gradually mesh the spheres of acceptable domestic sexuality and disreputable public sexuality to conceive a woman, who despite being untethered from societal norms, is a compelling representation of Muslim women and Urdu. In restructuring courtesan Urdu as reputable, this dissertation corrects scholarships’ sustainment of the linguistic hierarchy of Hindi over Urdu and the colonial symbolic Indian Hindu woman over her Muslim counterpart. Dismantling the British imperial and Indian colonial construction of a debased Urdu is imperative to redress the continued global devaluation of Urdu and even its speakers, including in Pakistan, where Urdu is the sole national and one of the two official languages. This dissertation answers Gyatri Spivak’s question of if the subaltern woman can speak with a resounding “yes, she can” and explores the various ways in which the marginalized and repressed can use language as a tool in an attempt to dismantle colonialism and subvert the authority of colonial oppressors while creating a singular identity, much in the way Aamir Mufti approaches the power of language.
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    "We Heard Healthcare": The Long Black Freedom Struggle as Health Justice
    (2023) Catchmark, Elizabeth; Enoch, Jessica; Fleming, Jr., Julius; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In her project, Elizabeth Catchmark traces the ways Black liberation organizers have positioned a guarantee of health as a prerequisite for citizenship since Emancipation. Their challenges to white supremacy named the violence of the state in making Black America sicker and organized communal acts of care to enable their survival in the wake of state neglect. By situating health justice as key to full participation in civic life, these activists refuted a disembodied interpretation of citizenship and offered instead an embodied, capacious vision of racial justice that acknowledges the entanglements of our environments, bodies, and minds. The genealogy Catchmark develops demonstrates that the right to health is a constituent feature of the Black political imagination across the long Black freedom struggle. Ultimately, she finds that Black liberation organizers, through their racial-justice informed theorizations of health and citizenship, illustrate that democracy and health are inextricable from the eradication of white supremacy while offering new ways forward for public policy, racial justice organizing, and interpersonal care.
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    Racing Imaginaries: Limit and Resistance in Contemporary Black Women's Speculative Fiction
    (2023) Nunn, Alexandria Jochebed; Konstantinou, Lee; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Speculative fiction is sometimes described as a genre of the future—a genre that celebrates technological and scientific progress and that envisions limitless possibilities. However, for persons already estranged by the reality manufactured for them, the apparent strangeness of dystopian futures, state surveillance, or reproductive and genetic engineering is not so distant nor so fictional. In this dissertation, Alexandria Nunn elucidates the consequences of writing and reading science fiction for authors of color at the intersection between realism and speculative modes. In this exploration of contemporary science fiction by Black women authors, Nunn examines the speculative literature of Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, and N.K. Jemisin as they challenge generic assumptions and reframe the stakes of science fiction and Black literary theory. “Racing Imaginaries: Limit and Resistance in Contemporary Black Women’s Speculative Fiction” specifically attends to a conversation between Black realist thought and history’s continuance into the present and future, which foregrounds histories of anti-blackness, alongside speculative fiction by Black imaginative authors which negotiates with the language of possibility even in repressive spaces where opportunity and expression are being silenced. Nunn maps a dialectic between Black realism and Black speculation in major works by Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and N. K. Jemisin, three of the foremost authors of the late 20th and early 21st century in the realm of American science fiction. Each author showcases the limitations of perceiving futures apart from race, while likewise suggesting alternative possibilities for growth and thriving. The conversation between these writers provides a template for understanding how speculative forms uniquely impact writers and authors of color operating with and against real-world phenomena so outlandish and often horrifying one would think them fantastic. Ultimately, Nunn suggests that Black creators frame science fiction not as a "literature of the possible” but rather as a "literature of the limit,” reminding readers both of the limits of contemporary lived reality and of the opportunities that already exist at their fingertips.
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    Modeling Wise Angers Online: Generation Z Activists and Their Digital Rhetorics of Feminist Rage
    (2023) Starr, Brittany Noelle Schoedel; Enoch, Jessica; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    “Modeling Wise Angers Online: Generation Z Activists and Their Digital Rhetorics of Feminist Rage” works at the nexus of feminist theory, digital media studies, and rhetoric to investigate how teen and young adult activists use 21st century social media technologies to challenge the sexist, racist, ageist, and ableist anger norms that disenfranchise young women in the public sphere. Each chapter theorizes what I call a “wise anger” strategy that its principal subject deploys to generate rhetorical agency for angry girl activists and change oppressive anger norms. The activists I examine are Greta Thunberg, Thandiwe Abdullah, and Shina Novalinga. While their causes range from the climate crisis to racial justice and Indigenous rights, and their primary platforms in my case studies are Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, respectively, they all make innovative, strategic use of digital affordances to reframe young women’s anger in public discourse. Examining datasets I compiled from the activists’ social media posts between 2018-2022, I use grounded theory and rhetorical analysis to identify patterns in the anger expressions in the multimodal, multilayered posts. I read the patterns through feminist and Black feminist theories of oppressive anger norms (Jaggar, Ahmed, Traister, Chemaly, Lorde, Cooper, Judd, Collins), cultural rhetorical frameworks (Powell et al.; Karetak, Tester, and Tagalik) and youth activist rhetorical frameworks (Applegarth, Hesford, Taft, Dingo). This dissertation is premised on the understanding that emotions have a biological basis, but are constructed socially, rhetorically, and culturally and thus tend to be scripted in ways that reproduce asymmetrical relations of power (Aristotle, Dixon, Fine, Gross, Harrington, Koerber). Ultimately, I develop a theory of wise anger as an angry response to injustice that is intelligent, informed, constructive, justice-oriented, hope-driven, rational, reasonable, and moral. The wise anger these youth activists model through their digital rhetorics on social media is part of a genealogy of feminist rage that envisions and enacts a more inclusive, more livable world.
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    The 25th Year
    (2023) Bronson Boddie, Sebastian; Weiner, Joshua; Creative Writing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    THE 25TH YEAR is a collection that seeks to understand what it means to bear witness. Cataloging their environment is how the speaker reconciles their fraught reality, making sense of the disorder of living. This disorder is reflected in the form of the work, as most of the poems are in free verse, with occasional variation. The poems in this collection explore themes of memory, community, and ordinary human kindness – and meditate on how powerful the practice of witness can be. In the tradition of Baldwin, Baudelaire, and the flâneur, the speaker observes what can often be missed, in order to connect to their community and themselves.
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    (2023) Hansen, Katherine Robbie; Mitchell, Emily; Creative Writing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This is a collection of magical women doing bad things. There are six stories narrated by six women. These women are: Louise, a woman cursed with the knowledge of when her husband will leave her; Joy and Amity, two young sisters struggling with their roles in their uncle’s small-town drug business; Lisi, a new mother who has been separated from her body; Flossie, a woman whose jealousy manifests itself in the mysterious and supernatural deaths of those around her; Clara, a conservatory musician confronted with the sudden disappearance of her girlfriend; and Ruth, a lost daughter who finds everything she wants in a magic powder which returns the skin to youth. Their tales are strange and otherworldly, occurring in planes beyond comprehension and control. The women narrate; their words always are their own.
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    (2023) Collins, Meghan Ann; Mitchell, Emily; Creative Writing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    From a pathologically shy student who ghosts her classes in Paris, to a directionless college graduate who cheats on her girlfriend with a much-older coworker, and another who, in lieu of leaving a bad relationship, decides to move to an apocalypse-proof bunker under the ocean, the characters in these stories are unified by their shared traits of curiosity, confusion, embarrassment, existential dread, and by the magnetic pull of self-sabotage. They are painfully ambivalent, sometimes throwing themselves with reckless abandon toward the object of their longing, the next seeking the destruction of all avenues of possible connection. These stories evoke the constant and repetitive search for meaning, identity, and belonging that characterizes young adulthood. Beneath the angst and self-doubt that rules each character’s mind, there is also a young person’s stubborn belief in revelation: the hunch that enlightenment could come at any moment, and that, when it does, this will all somehow finally make sense.
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    The Best of the Wreck
    (2023) Smith, Cecilia; Weiner, Joshua; Creative Writing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The poems in this collection explore the cyclical nature of relationships, family history, and natural phenomena, as well as the extent to which these cycles shape the trajectory of one’s life. Surrealism becomes a means of control, as it allows the speakers of these poems to transform their surroundings through imaginative perception. This childlike imagination is juxtaposed with disillusionment, coming-of-age, and the failures of intimate relationships. Written in a range of forms and meters, including fable-like rhymes and gnomic stanzas, these poems investigate our instincts for physical pleasure while questioning what we think and why we think it.
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    Critical Montessori Education: Centering BIPOC Montessori Educators and their Anti-Racist Teaching Practices
    (2023) D'Cruz Ramos, Genevieve; Liu, Rossina Z; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    While many BIPOC Montessori educators engage in anti-racist and culturally responsive teaching, Montessori education remains predominantly race-evasive. As a philosophy, it is rooted in colorblind perspectives in its focus on "all children" and lack of explicit centering of BIPOC students’ experiences. Teaching must account for race and racial lived realities in order to better support BIPOC students’ ways of knowing in culturally relevant and sustaining ways. This study seeks to center the voices of BIPOC Montessori educators and disrupt the pattern of Montessori research conducted without a critical racial lens. Framed by Critical Race Theory, this study focuses on the strengths, assets, and anti-racist teaching practices that one BIPOC educator brings to her classroom. I use critical ethnographic methods to better understand how a BIPOC Montessori teacher at a public charter Montessori school interprets and enacts the Montessori method to support BIPOC students. I consider how her racial identity informs her practices, and the structural barriers she faces at her school when enacting anti-racist and strength-based approaches. The guiding research questions of this study are: How does a Black Montessori teacher interpret the Montessori philosophy to more relevantly support her BIPOC students? How does she practice the Montessori method through culturally relevant and sustaining practices? What are the structural barriers that continue to challenge her as a Black educator doing her work? My analysis suggests that the teacher maintains her classroom space as a tangible and intangible cultural space that reflects and maintains her students' identities; that her own identity as a Black woman deeply contribute to the school's work around anti-racism and culturally responsive pedagogy; and that there are external barriers that both the teacher and the school face, that prevent them both from fully achieving culturally responsive teaching practices. At the core of the study, I seek to understand the possibilities and challenges of Montessori education from the perspective of BIPOC Montessori educators, and how we could learn from them to better support BIPOC students. I hope to begin a path toward more counter-stories in the Montessori community to specifically support BIPOC Montessori educators and understand the structural barriers they face to anti-racist teaching in Montessori programs in the United States.
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    From Censors to Shouts: Ecologies of Abortion in American Fiction
    (2023) Schollaert, Jeannette; Walter, Christina; Smith, Martha Nell; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    “From Censors to Shouts: Ecologies of Abortion in American Fiction” registers the urgent need to revisit the literary methods of abortion storytelling in multiethnic American women’s fiction with a close attention to one of its most significant tropes: the herbal abortifacients that signify as both code and medicine, recalling the Victorian “language of flowers” as well as essentialist metaphorical connections between femininity, reproduction, and the natural world. This project traces the literary history of herbal abortifacients from abortion’s censorship and criminalization in the nineteenth century to present-day movements to reclaim or “shout” one’s abortion. The fictional mentions of plants known to be abortifacients demonstrate how literature can communicate reproductive and plant knowledge. “From Censors to Shouts” also offers a window into how the practice of domestic herbalism (a gendered and often racialized practice) evolves over the course of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries by pairing a cultural historical analysis of the herbs themselves alongside considerations of how authors’ fictional deployments of these herbs work towards visions of reproductive and environmental justice. “From Censors to Shouts” considers fiction from multiethnic American women writers including Sarah Orne Jewett, Edith Summers Kelley, Josephine Herbst, Marge Piercy, Octavia Butler, Ntozake Shange, Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, and Kali Fajardo-Anstine. The fictional depiction of herbal abortifacients reveals our continued attention to plant knowledge and self-managed herbal abortion. Understanding how these plant names and knowledges have remained crucial rhetorical, cultural, and visual signifiers of abortion access is vital to understanding the reclamation of these knowledges as we re-commit to the fight for abortion rights and reproductive justice amidst a new legal landscape.
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    Daggers of the Mind: Performing Madness and Mental Disorder on the Early English Stage
    (2023) Rio, Melanie; Passannante, Gerard; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Madness is such a popular device in early modern English drama that extant playscripts are littered with stage directions indicating that a character should enter “like a madman” or simply, “mad.” Because the public playhouse required the psychosomatic participation of actors and observers from every social class and category, it served as a unique cultural laboratory in which to explore questions of cognition, embodiment, identity, and interiority. Madness as a theatrical device also offers unique insight into the challenge of “performing” an invisible disability. This dissertation examines representations of madness in the early English playhouse—primarily in the works of works Shakespeare, but also considering works by Fletcher, Webster, Middleton, Armin, and others—as well as extradramatic primary sources such as court cases and physicians’ notebooks in order to demonstrate how intersecting indices of identity influence the construction and interpretation of early modern cognitive disorder.
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    Tutors’, Spanish-Speaking Students’, and Writing Center Directors’ Dispositions Toward Literacy and the Effect of their Dispositions on Tutoring Sessions
    (2023) Ellis, Marina; Wilder, Sara; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    University composition classrooms and writing centers have continued to see an influx ofmultilingual students, particularly self-identified Hispanic students entering the academy and bringing with them a plethora of knowledge and experiences of their lived realities within and outside of academia. Yet these experiences are often overlooked for the sake of identifying one particular system for aiding them in their writing needs. This study uses semi-structured narrative inquiry-based preliminary interviews, observations of tutoring sessions, and follow-up interviews to examine the ways in which writing center tutors, heritage Spanish-speaking writing center tutees’, and writing center directors’ attitudes toward language and literacy are formed from their academic, sociocultural, linguistic, and cognitive experiences to understand the effects their lived realities have on tutoring sessions. In this way, this interdisciplinary study responds to calls from researchers in education, rhetoric and composition, and writing center studies for more research and expands upon current scholarship that highlights multilingual students’ lived realities as assets to the writing classroom and writing center rather than as deficits. Results from this study highlight the ways in which tutors and Spanish-speaking tutees’ dispositions toward literacy do have a positive impact on tutoring sessions, whether it is specific teaching styles the tutors have developed over time that are influenced by their own learning experiences, taking small moments within sessions to find commonalities with one another that therefore facilitate a collaborative rapport, utilizing techniques that encourage tutee agency, finding ways to empathize with tutees so that they feel comfortable enough to return to the center, and much more. These findings then have implications for improved tutor training initiatives that emphasize individualized instruction for multilingual students who attend writing center sessions, and assignments that require tutors to examine and reflect on their own literacy learning practices.
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    Copia Rerum: Histories and Theories of Rhetorical Arrangement
    (2023) Leon, Roberto Sebastian; Valiavitcharska, Vessela V; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Many rhetoric and composition scholars concentrate on developments in argument and expression. Form, however, receives comparatively less attention, leading scholars to ask “Who Took the Form out of the Process?” and to argue for “Re-fusing Form in Genre Theory.” “Copia Rerum” responds to these invitations by reframing the history of rhetoric and composition as a history of rhetorical arrangement. Drawing on primary sources from several fields and attending to terms of art, I account for previously proposed theories of arrangement in composition studies, noting how arrangement is often conceptualized as a matter of intersentential or interparagraph linkages, organizational frames, or a series of moves; and as such, modern approaches to arrangement often reduce arrangement to a matter of argument or expression. Inasmuch as these scholars have found such inspiration from the history of rhetoric, and recognizing that many of these structural concepts are critiqued for their nineteenth-century assumptions and sometimes restricted focus on linear or static form, a turn to the history of rhetoric can enrich our understanding of arrangement. The following chapters turn to ancient rhetoricians from Greek and Roman rhetorics to Medieval and Renaissance rhetorics. Along the way, I attend to terms of art such as ideai, kephalaia, modi positionum, and figura rerum to explore the multidimensional, responsive, synthetic, distributive, variable, and transformational possibilities of rhetorical arrangement. I find that ancient Greek discourse theorists understand arrangement as integral to composition; that other Greeks and Romans recognize the responsive and embeddable potential of mesostructures; that Medieval rhetoricians extend these practices and blur distinctions between the parts of an oration, invention, and the figures of thought; and that the Erasmian tradition clearly combines the figures of thought with the parts of an oration to show how the parts of an oration can be considered discoursal figures. In terms of the history of rhetoric, this dissertation recovers and traces pre-modern and early-modern structural concepts and their explicit and implicit theories and pedagogies. By attending to these examples of pre-nineteenth century units of discourse, my study adds to discussions among historians of rhetoric concerning the Sophists, stasis theory, progymnasmata, Medieval composition, and Renaissance stylistics. In terms of rhetoric and writing studies, this dissertation situates rhetorical arrangement among writing studies, linguistics, psychology, and communication studies; accounts for shifts of structural concepts from writing studies to adjacent fields; and offers new theoretical and methodological ways of thinking about and teaching genre moves. The theories I recover and principles I explore can serve as a fresh basis for thinking about arrangement and form in composition for scholars, teachers, and students.
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    "Many Hands Hands": Early Modern Englishwomen's Recipe Books and the Writing of Food, Politics, and the Self
    (2006) Field, Catherine; Donawerth, Jane; English; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    "Many Hands Hands" is a study of early modern Englishwomen's recipe (or "receipt") books. It traces how women explored and expressed matters of food, politics, and self in culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic recipes. The receipt book genre was closely associated with the work of the early modern house, where women were accepted as authorities in matters of household management; thus, the receipt book was particularly accessible to women as they searched for modes of self-expression. Through recipe practice, the housewife managed her own body, as well as the bodies of those under her care (such as her husband, children, servants, and neighbors); at the same time, she occasionally exerted pressure on the body politic of the state. In this period, domestic activities within the home were often politicized, and I argue that the housewife's role and recipe practice were considered central to definitions of English nationhood. In addition to surveying women's manuscript recipe collections, I also analyze printed representations of their recipe practice from the beginning and middle of the seventeenth century. In Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well (c.1604), the female practitioner is represented as powerful and capable, yet Helen's specialized knowledge about the (royal) male body makes her a troubling and disturbing figure to the other characters in the play, including Bertram of Rossillion, the man she hopes to marry. The play ultimately valorizes Helen's practice, however, and it reinforces an empirical world view, where with the proper "how to" (or recipe), bodies are knowable and healable, in spite of their transgressive (if predictable) desires. By the middle of the seventeenth century, "how to" books of recipes (in print and in manuscript) come to be increasingly influenced by utopian writings. Printed cookbooks attributed to women reveal utopian longings in the form of royalist nostalgia, a desire to reclaim the past as a place of good household management and national economy. Recipes became a mode through much women and men could reflect on the "how to" workings of the body in order to improve the health of the individual and, ultimately, the body politic of the state.
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    Conrad's Secret Sharer as the Pole within: The Polish Father as Doppelgänger
    (1996) Strohecker, Dorothy Pula; Kleine, Donald W.; English; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    "Conrad' s Secret Sharer as the Pole Within: The Polish Father as Doppelgänger" establishes an As If hypothesis that presents "The Secret Sharer" as a paradigm for reading the Conradian canon. Although other critics have written on Conrad 's father figure, his Polishness, and the double, my essay assumes a combined methodology based on biographical, psychological, symbolic, and doppelgänger strategies for setting up my thesis and text decoding. The first three chapters provide the background and methodology to be applied to "The Secret Sharer" explication in the last two chapters. Beginning with Chapter I, "Conrad's Polishness and the Dual Polish Father Figure," the biographical and cultural basis for Conrad's Polish matrix and his ambivalence as "Homo Duplex" are explored. Chapter II, "Conrad and the Fictional Father," reviews the proliferation of Conradian father figures, seeing the Lacanian metaphor of the father in its conflict over law and desire as significant in Conrad's generation of themes of crisis over identity involving betrayal, guilt, and questions of fidelity to paternal ideals. In addition, the father is discussed as "symbol" in preparation for equating the Polish father, Apollo, with the doppelgänger. Chapter III, "Conrad's Symbolic Approach to Fiction: The Double as Symbol: Motifs of the Doppelgänger" stresses Conrad's claim that all great art is symbolic. The double is examined as symbol of the unconscious in its many doppelgänger motifs. Finally, in Chapters IV and V, "The Secret Sharer as Pole Within: The Doppelgänger as Apollo, the Polish Father" Parts I and II, concepts from preceding chapters are used to formulate the thesis for "The Secret Sharer" as paradigm for interpreting Conrad's fiction. In this hypothetical approach, there is no attempt to be definitive and no intention to be dogmatic; the only purpose is to explore cognitive possibilities of meaning to enrich, not reduce, the close reading of "The Secret Sharer" and provide a paradigm of thesis generation for Conrad's major fiction.
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    African-American Modernism in the Novels of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen
    (1992) McManus, Mary Hairston; Joyce, Joyce Ann; English; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    Because early critical evaluations of the literary works of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen were superficial, their reading audience generally regarded both writers as sentimentalists and authors in the genteel tradition. A close analytical study of Plum Bun, The Chinaberry Tree, Quicksand, and Passing reveals the presence of a feminist sensibility not widely discerned. The themes which these two writers employ are typically mainstream modernist, whereas their strategies are African-American. Both Fauset and Larsen depict the mulatta as alienated, restless, and confused in her quest for autonomy and self-expression. Because the mulatta image is acceptable to a wide reading audience, it becomes an ideal narrative strategy for deflecting attention from issues of female sexuality, female subjectivity, and female spaces. Fauset and Larsen bring their writing into the modern era by conjoining the historical, African-American technique of masking with thematic strands which adhere to the modernist ideology. Such a literary plan requires a redefining of modernism to include race and gender. When the execution of that plan results in an empowering of oppressed groups and a heightened consciousness of the female presence in literature and in society, we have African-American modernism. Fauset and Larsen expand upon a sensibility which their literary predecessor Frances Harper suggested in her novel. These two writers of the Harlem Renaissance anticipate by approximately fifteen years the handling of feminist issues by such writers as Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy West, and Ann Petry. Fauset's and Larsen's novels, along with those of Hurston, West, and Petry, demonstrate the evolution of sexuality from a masked female issue for reasons of morality and respectability to the greater openness seen in later works. The mulatta's significance as a masking strategy diminishes as these writers exercise a female subjectivity. Fauset's reliance upon a female subjectivity results in greater use of material consumption while Larsen explores unconventional female spaces. Both writers display African- American modernist tendencies through experimenting with greater sexual expression, individuality, and displacement of the woman from a male-centered perspective. Fauset and Larsen use the mulatta in their novels to explore new and broader arenas for female expression. Likewise, a re-configuration of modernism to include empowerment of race and gender insures both Fauset and Larsen a less marginalized position in the literary world.
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    "I Shall Tell A Double Tale": Empedoclean Materialism and Idealism in the English Renaissance
    (2022) Libhart, Garth; Passannante, Gerard; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The Pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles (ca. 484–ca. 424 BCE) is remembered both as an enraged fool who leapt into a volcano to prove he was a god, and as a philosopher who radically suggested everything is made of matter (DK107). In the fragments of his poetry, he admits to telling a “double tale,” potentially nodding to the indistinct ontological vision embedded in his work and underscoring the way his poetry shifts between materialist and idealist frames of reference (DK17.1). I argue that Empedocles’ perspectival relativism is an alternative entry point into the problem of materialism for early modern thinkers, freeing them from the burden of strict philosophical commitment and enabling them to think in materialist terms with less anxiety about succumbing to physical determinism. For scholars of early modern literature, the Empedoclean double tale helps root the period’s tendency for perspectival indeterminacy within a specific humanistic tradition. This dissertation is organized as three long chapters, each offering a unique moment in the reception of Empedocles’ blurry ontology. In Chapter One, I argue that Philemon Holland’s 1603 translation of Plutarch’s Moralia represents a watershed moment for Empedoclean influence in English literary history. My analysis demonstrates that, while the discredited story of Empedocles jumping into a volcano to prove he was a god continues to be an attention-grabbing part of the philosopher’s legacy in the Renaissance, the seventeenth century witnesses an increasing interest in his actual philosophy. Specifically, early modern writers draw inspiration from Empedocles’ theory of effluence—the idea that the four elements emanate tiny particles of a similar composition—as they contemplate monist possibility (DK89). Illustrating this, in Chapter Two, I read Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1607) as an exploration of the world in flux, showing how one of Shakespeare’s likely sources for the play, Plutarch’s treatise on Isis and Osiris in the Moralia, uses the idea of effluence to negotiate between the myth’s dualistic and monistic aspects. This enables me to propose that, in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare undergirds moments like Cleopatra’s elementally framed suicide with the dynamic “double tale” of Empedoclean ontology, portraying her immortal aspiration in simultaneously materialist and transcendent terms. Finally, in Chapter Three, I turn to John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), which directly alludes to Empedocles’ volcanic suicide when Satan encounters the ghost of Empedocles, floating in Limbo, during his journey from hell to earth. Showing how Milton draws on key ideas from Empedocles’ philosophy in the process of critiquing his immortal longing, I argue that the episode is underwritten by the philosopher’s perspectival relativism. The chapter then reconsiders the monist materialism of Paradise Lost through an Empedoclean lens, suggesting that the Pre-Socratic philosopher’s unusual blend of dualistic and monistic ideation can help negotiate between divergent critical responses to Milton’s idiosyncratic materialism. Ultimately, the dissertation reveals how early modern writers take inspiration from Empedocles’ fluid movement between materialism and idealism, freed from the limitations of rigid philosophical commitment and binary choice.
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    Afropolitan Hackers: Redefining Anglophone African Literature
    (2022) Faradji, Sara; Ray, Sangeeta; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In the twenty-first century, we are witnessing a resounding boom in the production and reception of Anglophone African literature. Novelists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Lauren Beukes, and Dinaw Mengestu have achieved critical acclaim in Africa, the U.S., Europe, and beyond. My dissertation examines how these writers are reshaping our understandings of African literature and criticism. I explore how “African Boom” writers resemble computer hackers that break existing conventions and actively rebuild those systems for the better. They adeptly learn the “code” of Anglophone literature, but then they “break into” the literary canon, steal the master’s tropes, and modify the literature to be even more effective and resonant among academic and popular audiences. My dissertation specifically engages with the writing of authors who I call Afropolitan hackers. These writers distinctively reflect Afro-cosmopolitan sensibilities in both their fictional and critical works. As they receive high praise from reputable academic and popular literary critics, Afropolitan hackers make bold, dynamic changes to the very literary canon they studied and disrupted. In order to demonstrate how African Boom writers are Afropolitan hackers, I consider how they challenge past and present concerns in postcolonial literature. Specifically, I examine how some of them are “hacking” three classic literary tropes: the flâneur, the griot, and the scammer. By simultaneously debunking and extending traditional theoretical expectations of the African narrative, select Africa-based and migrant Afropolitan authors challenge the notion that their writing must epitomize a single story if they seek to appeal to a global audience.
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    Staging the Middle Ages: History and Form in Early Modern English Drama
    (2022) Daley, Liam Thomas; Robertson, Kellie; English Language and Literature; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Early modern conceptions of what it meant to be “medieval” continue to shape our own conception of what it means to be “modern.” Writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries claimed to separate historical fact from literary fiction more effectively than their medieval forebears. And yet, many widespread ideas about the Middle Ages that persist to this day—including the idea of a “Middle Ages” at all—are the fictional inventions of early modern writers, from chroniclers and antiquarians, to poets and playwrights. Focusing on the affordances and limitations of dramatic form, this dissertation examines how enduringly popular visions of the Middle Ages crafted by Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights (including John Bale, Thomas Hughes, and Elizabeth Cary) still inform our historical understanding. These writers shaped their revisionist historiographical narratives for the Renaissance stage in a host of generic guises, not only in Elizabethan chronicle history plays, but also in secularized morality plays, Senecan tragedies, and closet drama. These early modern depictions of the medieval past gave new life to older dramatic forms characteristic of both classical and medieval theatre, such as the chorus and various forms of theatrical spectacle, while also employing new formal strategies such as the soliloquy, the dumbshow, and the play-within-a-play. All the plays examined here—including John Bale’s Kynge Johan, Shakespeare’s King John and Richard II, Thomas Hughes’s The Misfortunes of Arthur, and Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam—engage in self-conscious medievalism. Remediating earlier chronicle accounts as well as contemporary historiographical controversies (or “battles-of-the-books”), these plays fashion new fictions of when the Middle Ages ended and when modernity began. The dissertation concludes with an analysis of modern dramatic medievalism in Tony Kushner’s twentieth-century stage epic, Angels in America, a play that witnesses the continuing power of premodern dramatic and historical models as tools for re imagining ideas of national and cultural identity. Examining the formal strategies employed by all these playwrights provides insight into the ways that readers and writers have understood the medieval past, the modern present, and the shape of history itself.