Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Steven Barthelme

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Andrew Milward

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Dr. Kathryn Cochran

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Dr. Charles Sumner

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Abstract

The short stories in Dreamers explore American masculinity in the twenty-first century. They also examine and complicate Asian-American identity at a time when decades-old stereotypes persist in the culture. In the title story, a war veteran returns home from Afghanistan to find an American landscape that has the feel and texture of a terrible dream. In other stories, men fixate not on women but on each other. In “Still Life,” the middle-aged main character is preoccupied with a friend who died over fifteen years ago. The main character in “At War with the Insects” pursues a man who was both persecutor and liberator at the lowest point in his life. Power and dominance are themes that surface in “From the Archive.” In the story, a visit to a childhood friend turns sinister as one man tries to blackmail the other. In “James Choi,” a young man of Korean-American descent marvels at the sexual prowess of his best friend while searching for answers in the aftermath of his mysterious suicide. The final story in the collection presents the private journal of a high school senior a couple weeks before prom. The Korean-American narrator of “The Great Unknown” is less concerned about prom than a friend whom he believes has the makings of another Seung-Hui Cho, the notorious architect of the mass murder at Virginia Tech in 2007.

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