Date of Award

Summer 8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Andrew M. Milward

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Monika Gehlawat

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Martina M. Sciolino

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Christopher J. Garland

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Abstract

The eight stories that make up Blackletter explore situations in which people are forced to challenge the legitimacy of authority, rethink and rebuild their own identities, or confront their own involvement in human and environmental degradation. A central theme running throughout the collection is law, broadly, and the ways in which people adhere to or sometimes break from a particular rule, be it social or legislative. In each case, the role of law and its correlation to place and identity—either overt or veiled—serves as a major component of each story. In this way I locate these stories within a sociolegal discourse that emphasizes the interpersonal impact of estrangement, abrogated civic and moral duty, and even candid hostility toward contemporary issues of responsibility and governance. Taken together with the closing nonfiction essay, this collection attempts to show that the laws we live by, as well as those we disobey or amend, comprise an evolving tradition, or wall of precedent. Like the traditions of prose and poetry, which have rules to be followed and sometimes challenged, this ongoing creation of precedent affects its direct participants while revealing that no person is entirely isolated from it, and therefore from the ability to engage it.

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