Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Co-Major Professor

Michael Clune, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jay Hopler, M.F.A.

Committee Member

Pat Rogers, Ph.D.


American, Formalist, Horror, Popular culture, The Stand


In this dissertation, it is my intention to show how Stephen King transcends genre, creates and maintains a viable Secondary Reality, and treats capably those literary techniques that critics expect of a serious writer. In addition, I will discuss the ways in which King has secured the loyalty of his Constant Reader. The primary means of my analysis will be through a close reading of the "expanded and uncut" version of The Stand, one of the classics in King's arsenal.

I will begin with an overview of the general set-up in the novel---the start in Arnette, Texas, the actions of the military and media, and the 99.4% communicability of the flu itself. From there, I will delve into detailed character analyses of the main players in the story, before moving on to questions of the bigger picture---good vs evil, the question of choice, the Stand itself, the issue of government, and the promise of the future. I will conclude with a brief look at King's style and consider the overall reasons for his popular appeal.

It is my hope that such a lengthy look at one of King's novels---instead of the brief chapters devoted to each of his novels in turn---will reveal not only the reasons why King is worthy of serious study, but will show that King's work does stand up to in-depth criticism, thereby answering one of the key questions of current King scholarship: is there enough in King to work with? Everybody agrees that King can crank out lengthy novels without much trouble; it is my intention to peak [sic] into the corners and down into the basement, if for no other reason than to find out if there really is a bogeyman hiding in there, or if it is merely an over-inflated rag doll of fandom. Either way, whether the horror be in the text or in the lack of substance in the text, I hope that my examination will lend new insight to the study of The Stand, and perhaps pave the way for other in-depth studies of other King novels.