Date of Award

Spring 5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Dr. Angela Ball

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Dr. Julia Johnson

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Steven Barthelme

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Dr. Charles Sumner

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Committee Member 5

Dr. Kenneth Watson

Committee Member 5 Department

English

Abstract

The Nightingale of Austerlitz employs poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to articulate the theme of (mis)communication. A pliable, multi-genre approach was necessary to convey the urgency of two central characters’ desire to connect despite the impossibility of doing so. Prose interrupts and challenges the set precision of poetry in order to embody the stops and starts—the literal and figurative breakdowns—of communication. The juxtaposition of genres dramatizes dialogue, silence, affective distance, and desire. Song, sound, repetition (using lullaby, referencing music, thematizing the ear) further assert the power of language as performance and aesthetics as consolation, and provoke a particular kind of attention to communication—how we speak and hear, who listens, and how silence signifies. The collection is accompanied by a critical preface.

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