Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020

Degree

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This book-length work of pastoral poems, set in Louisiana, comprises three, interwoven thematic strains. The first strain is a series of epistolary love poems addressed to a woman whose family is descended from old-line antebellum statesmen, who revels in the mythology associated with the Old South, who has significantly more institutional power than the speaker does, and who has not always treated the speaker fairly. The second strain utilizes third-person omniscient narration to depict the contemporary lives of fictional characters (usually young and male, from rural or working-class backgrounds) as they attempt to attain upward mobility. And the final strain is made up of nature-and-landscape-oriented vignettes intended to serve as a backdrop to the first two thematic strains. This project’s literary influences are broad—ranging from Baudelaire’s withering & contemptuous young monarch (from “Spleen, III”, Les Fleurs du mal), to John Keats’s personal letters and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to the Agrarians’ I’ll Take My Stand. Keats, in particular, occupies a special place of reverence in this work, and is represented as a symbol of socioeconomic hardship, a victim of institutional oppression, and hearer of a timelessly-present “voice in the night” (see “Ode to a Nightingale”—1819). Catholic customs, sports-oriented traditions, political extremism, and regional clichés also make appearances in a way that acknowledges their role in the cultural landscape in which the poems exist.

Date

3-13-2020

Committee Chair

Wheeler, Joshua

Available for download on Monday, March 08, 2027

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