Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Clune, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shirley Toland-Dix, Ph.D.


artist, osmosis, recursion, space, textuality


For my MA thesis I propose to examine a series of novels that combine motifs of the body with structural and linguistic experimentation that parallels the state of the bodies within the text. Using Tsitsi Dangarembga's 1988 "bodybildungsroman" Nervous Conditions, Sherley Anne Williams' 1986 neo -slave narrative Dessa Rose, Samuel Beckett's 1938 existential novel Murphy, Vikram Seth's 1986 poetic novel Golden Gate, and Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 poetic novel Pale Fire, I will argue that these texts portray the body as a readable space of culture, a legible site of conflict or creation.

I contend that these novels depict the body as either open or contained: osmotically interacting with and creatively responding to its environment, or recursively closed, interacting cancerously only with itself. In addition, using the words of the respective author when available, I will examine the form around the human form-the osmotic openness or recursiveness of the text itself: its structure, genre, and handling of language, as well as the author's deliberate unsettling of reader expectation and conscious cultivation of physical response from the audience.