Title

Kania

Publication Date

5-2015

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-4-2015

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Department

English

Major Advisor

Martin Corless-Smith, Ph.D.

Advisor

Kerri Webster, M.F.A.

Advisor

Cheryl Hindrichs, Ph.D.

Abstract

Kania begins as a poetic revision of fairy tales, an attempt to extract the potential female narratives buried within the source texts, in their stifling archetypes. In the spirit of Angela Carter, it attempts to manipulate the most recognizable fairy tale motifs in order to explore issues of violence, deviant desire, sexuality, and monstrosity. As the text evolves, the archetypal “monster” shifts in location, becoming increasingly internal to the woman/speaker. First “he” is the abuser, then “she” is the errant woman, then finally, “it” is the interior anxiety, the self”s nightmare, ungendered and constantly in flux. The manuscript strives, through this cacophony, to render “monster” a blank slate, capable of housing multiple connotations beyond the original fairy tale archetype. The monster is also the maiden, also the victim, also the good. The monster is queer.

These queer-feminist concerns are soon joined by a wider existential fixation. The third and final section of the project, “Paralysis,” acts as a foil to the preceding fairy tale sections (“Lesion” and “Little Read”). If the latter are populated by speakers striving for a volitional selfhood, then the former is concerned with the inevitable loss of that self-spoken “I”: in sleep, in mental illness, in encounters with the Sublime, and finally in death. Sleep paralysis is in many ways like “practice” for death, a real-world manifestation of the fairy tale’s nightmarish logic. And in its throttling of movement and voice, it seems a fitting parallel to (patriarchal) oppression.

But though patriarchy and death are both oppressive, they are in no way equivalent: the first creates hierarchies, divisions; the second promises to shatter them. And because death is natural, there is the desire to read it as good. The manuscript’s (desperate) solution is to focus on death’s ambiguous potential: it can obliterate the hard-won “I,” or it can widen it, past selfhood, past hierarchies, past divisions. Death could be the final/fated/fatal queering, both terrifying and good.

Available for download on Thursday, May 11, 2017

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