Date of Award

Summer 5-12-2023

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Humanities

Committee Chair

Adam Clay

Committee Chair School

Humanities

Committee Member 2

Angela Ball

Committee Member 2 School

Humanities

Committee Member 3

Emily Stanback

Committee Member 3 School

Humanities

Committee Member 4

Ery Shin

Abstract

Motherlines is a full-length poetry collection that at its core examines Indigenous hybridity and the “Indigenous Elegiac.” Like grief, Motherlines inhabits liminal spaces. Specifically, the borderlands the writer experiences as a mixed-race woman and as an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This collection also resides in a space of active mourning. It mourns the writer’s grandmother and mother, as well as the maternal line connecting the writer to her clan and ancestral land. The work within Motherlines is hybrid in its form and use of language, and it is through this hybridity the collection grieves the loss of mothertongue, Indigenous culture, and land historically and systematically altered. While hybrid forms allow room for mourning and the interrogation of intergenerational trauma, it also gives room for the taking back of agency. More precisely, Motherlines is a conduit for reaction against erasure, for the dismantling of English language, and the inclusion of Indigenous language.

Motherlines poses a central question, asks how to navigate grief as an Indigenous person existing in a non-post-colonial landscape. As explored in various poems, navigation is complicated by the writer’s understanding of herself as an amalgamation of Indigenous peoples and European colonization. The poems offer no definitive way to grieve, and the scope of the collection does not move past the grieving process. However, throughout Motherlines the speaker more solidly understands her personal grief as interconnected with larger cultural losses. It is through connection with Indigenous realities, including the acknowledgment of intergenerational trauma, that the writer realizes the bond tying her to her Indigeneity persists despite death and colonial impacts.

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