Summer & Fall 2019 Master of Arts in English Essay Presentations

Graduate Students present their capstone projects.

Current students, faculty, alumni, family, and the local community are invited to hear graduating M.A. in English students present their master's essay.

Date & Time:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM



McNeely Hall (MCH), Room 100

Current students, faculty, alumni, family, and the local community are invited to hear graduating M.A. in English students present their master's essay. Light refreshments will be served. Please join us in celebrating our summer and fall 2019 graduates. Come back later in the semester for student titles and abstracts.

Alyssa Adkins
The Possibilities and Limits of Recognizing the Other in Humanizing Narratives: A Marxist Reading of Arundhati Roy's Walking with the Comrades and Óscar Martínez's The Beast

This project aims at problematizing the apparent recognition of a particular relation between subject and spectator imbricated in the reading act of Arundhati Roy’s Walking with the Comrades and Óscar Martínez’s The Beast, each an intellectual project with a humanizing impulse in their respective narrations of particular conditions of systemic injustice. By developing a critique of Judith Butler’s Frames of War, which initially appears a generative framework from which to query the apparent encounter between subject and spectator, I argue that, while Roy and Martínez’s humanizing narrations initially seem to facilitate authentic moments of recognition and consequential proximity to the subject, actually commodify, isolate and distance the spectator from subject, suggesting the extent to which each of these texts is ensnared in the process of reification and cannot ultimately transcend the inherent mystification of the political economy in which they operate.

Molly Behun
Un-Dead Girl Walking: Unearthing a Feminist Alternative to Problematic Media Tropes


Inspired by Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, this personal essay explores the history of the Dead Girl archetype in crime fiction and beyond, meditating on the ways in which the Dead Girl has infiltrated almost every realm of Western culture. The Dead Girl, and her sister the Living Dead Girl, are figures that allows patriarchal writers to include women in their fiction at the expense of female agency, authenticity and life, as seen in the frequency with which dead women decorate the page and the screen. An examination of crime fiction illustrates the qualities of both tropes and the current problems within the genre itself as a result of their continued usage. The focus then shifts to the Gothic, a genre of transgression, and the search for a figure to stand against these “Dead” tropes. Through an analysis of the YouTube serial Carmilla: The Series, this essay defines and presents the “Un- dead Girl” as a model for the future of feminist storytelling.

Jadea Conway
Fresh Oranges

Carlee Diedrich
YouTube Beauty Boys as Subversive Tactical Technical Communicators

This study considers the "beauty boys" - cisgendered, gay men who upload makeup tutorials to YouTube - as experts in Miles Kimball's (2016) tactical technical communication method. I also employ Judith Butler's (1990) theories of gender performance and subversion to show how the beauty boys are simultaneously subverting hegemonic notions of masculinity and the gender binary, while also instrucing viewers in the complex processes of makeup application and forming crucial communities and identities as la Lehua Ledbetter (2018). In this way, I endeavor to show that the beauty boys are a good example of where the scholarship and practice of technical communication are headed, or at least should be headed - effective tactical technical communication that privileges diversity, subversive identity-building, and community formation.

Scott Larkin

Carly Lewellen
Embracing Difficulty: The Challenge of Teaching Shakespeare's Language

William Shakespeare's language has always been thought of as extremely challenging to understand, especially to high school students. Too often teachers give up on embracing this difficulty and use No Fear Shakespeare or film versions in their classrooms to replace Shakespeare's original language, so are students really learning Shakespeare if all they examine are translations or adaptations? This essay examines how teachers attempt to teach Shakespeare, what challenges teachers must overcome to effectively teach Shakespeare, and what lessons can look like if both teachers and students embrace the difficulty of Shakespeare's language together.

Claire Prescott

Amy Vander Heiden
Frivolity and Fainting in Love and Freindship and "The Mystery": Reinterpreting Nonsense in Jane Austen's Juvenilia

Jane Austen’s juvenilia has recently enjoyed much attention, with scholars paying particular notice to language and the seeming nonsense of Austen’s unconventional early texts. The finished epistolary novella Love and Freindship and the playlet “The Mystery: An Unfinished Comedy” are two works of the juvenilia written between 1787-1790 that engage in this play with language and nonsense. Love and Freindship, as a parody of the sentimental novel, is full of linguistic and bodily excesses. The heroines not only use effusive language to convert characters from sense to sensibility, but they also repeatedly faint. On the other hand, “The Mystery,” as an “unfinished” work, is defined by its lack. It is characterized by its verbal and physical absences, by its suggestions in the ellipses, hints in its sparse dialogue, and whispering characters. In my essay, I synthesize, extend, and juxtapose these examples of nonsense as excess and absence.

Already as an adolescent, Austen was critically aware of the conventions of genre, but she was also critical of the conventions that pervaded the long eighteenth century, such as those surrounding communication, marriage, and wealth. She empties out these conventions by challenging the boundary between sense and nonsense. Following how nonsense as excess, silliness, or absurdity—as frivolity—is created and to what end demonstrates the texts’ critique of the conventions. Analyzing the literal ramifications of nonsense as a lack of the senses—linguistic absence and fainting—reveals the difficulty of using language to make meaning. I argue Austen’s novella and playlet blur the boundary between sense and nonsense to point to the emptiness of restrictive conventions and to reveal the limits of our ability to make sense of reality through language. Reveling in the nonsense of Austen’s juvenilia helps us appreciate her entire body of work and her genius as an author. 

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