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    Embracing Queer Failure and Reaching for Queer Utopia within Chen Chen’s Poetry
    (2023) Toole, Grayson; Stadler, Gustavus
    This thesis explores Jack Halberstam’s theory queer failure within his The Art of Failure and José Muñoz’s theory of queer utopia in his Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Futurity through two of Chen Chen’s poetry collections. The two collections of Chen Chen’s I include, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities and Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, navigate growing up as a queer child in a ChineseAmerican family, failing capitalist societal standards as a child of immigrants, and his nuanced relationships with his mom, other family, and partner. To fully elucidate these topics, I also include temporal queer theory from Elizabeth Freeman and Kathryn Stockton as well as queer grief theory from David Eng and Wen Liu. The main issue this thesis addresses is how queer people lead a fulfilled and hopeful life in a world that has expectations that do not serve or are not attainable for queer people under oppressive systems. I also address how we as individuals navigate our relationships and live within the United States when so much queer news, media, and experiences are surrounded by grief. Chen’s tragic and outreaching humor provides a wonderful medium to explore how we can embrace failure within our own lives and turn toward glimpses of utopia whether we find it in domestic bliss, erotic intimacy outside of a heterosexual gaze, or through mutual care and community building.
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    A Call to Dance: The Transformative Power of Dreams and Grief in Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz
    (2023) Serebrenik, Avi; McGrane, Laura
    This essay shows how The Baltimore Waltz channels the playwright’s, Paula Vogel’s, regret about not going on a journey through Europe with her brother before his passing from AIDS, to dream of a world where victims of HIV/AIDS aren’t stigmatized, where they are treated like the dream world’s protagonist, Anna, and a future where victims of HIV/AIDS are honored and remembered for being the multitudinous people that they are. The essay explores how each element of the Freudian dreamwork plays its part in this process, allowing the audience not only to see the hidden shame around HIV/AIDS but also to begin grieving for Carl, Anna’s brother and a victim of AIDS, which according to Judith Butler is a recognition of someone’s humanity. Butler also shows us how grief and mourning are ongoing transformative processes, and this essay argues that The Baltimore Waltz harnesses this potential to call upon the audience to carry the affect of grief with them and extend it towards others who suffer, or more specifically, the HIV susceptible people in their communities. The play acknowledges that the cruelties of the real world can’t be denied, but through its dream vision, it makes us question what reality could be. Ultimately, AIDS is no longer so strongly in the public consciousness, but this essay argues that the play has taken on a new life as an archive of the early years of the AIDS crisis and a guide toward challenging and transforming our communities to recognize queer lives.
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    Necromancing Mary
    (2023) Ng, Michiko; Kim, Elizabeth
    Inspired by Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, this collection of poems explores the meaning of monstrosity in contrast to innocence, beauty, and civilization in three parts. Riddled with references to childhood games and nursery rhymes, these poems are haunted by the innocence associated with childhood as they wrestle with the anxieties of Mari Lam as she considers what her role as a soon-to-be mother holds. “Part I: The Innocent and Hapless Creature” reflects on childhood and familial relationships, followed by an exploration of monstrosity in its psychological and societal manifestations in “Part II: I Am Thy Creature.” “Part III: A Human Being in Perfection” then attempts to reconcile these subjects, in a series of reflections relating the self to the environment. By conjoining topics such as spirituality and nature with science and justice, "Necromancing Mary" pays homage to the themes of Frankenstein while emphasizing the nuances between the sacred and destructive potentials of the mind. Poems focus on internal reflections of selfdoubt and private moments between Mari and her mother, father, and husband. In doing so, it also realizes the inevitable influence of social constructs— particularly gender—on selfhood. Influenced by poets like Kimiko Hahn, Hayden Carruth, and Anne Carson as well as theories from Donna Haraway and Julia Kristeva, these poems attempt to step back from ideological dichotomies to acknowledge and work through the anxieties that exist between and outside them.
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    “I Knew Such Lovely Pictures”: The Aesthetic Function of Nadsat and the Politics of Counterculture in A Clockwork Orange
    (2023) Mastrocola, Sarah; Mohan, Rajeswari
    This thesis contemplates the function of language in Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, paying close attention to the colloquial dialect, Nadsat, with which the narrator, Alex DeLarge, speaks. The essay explains how such language embodies an aesthetic of distortion and creative violence, which speaks to the anti-nationalistic sentiment and struggle for individualism expressed in British counterculture during the mid-twentieth century. We begin with an exploration of the linguistic construction of Nadsat as a device for social rebellion by analyzing its parent languages. This process involves looking into the sociopolitical and aesthetic properties of Cockney, a sociolect tied to the experience of the British working class. We also look at how Burgess’ use of Russian vocabulary suggests an underlying political commentary that drives the novel’s stylistic appeal. At the crux of this essay’s agenda is the question of how language represents the values of British youth counterculture, the emergence of which occurred after World War II. To answer this, we consider how the poetics of Nadsat express anarchy and perversion and still sound attractive. Through close readings, rhetorical analysis, and conversations with scholars such as Julia Kristeva, Dick Hebdige, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Edmund Burke, this essay justifies Nadsat’s grotesque beauty and reveals its liberating quality. What follows is a discussion of how the creative distortion of language allocates power to the individual, as it represents a rejection of traditional rhetorical structures endorsed by government institutions and, in turn, embraces the art of disrupting the norm. Nadsat posits Burgess' novel as a punk manifesto that asserts itself as distinct from the kind of linguistic and thematic content traditionally deemed appropriate for the Western literary canon.
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    “Narcissus Removed”
    (2023) McCaney, Kate; Kim, Elizabeth
    It is nearing the end of the fall semester of Laura Sterling’s final year at Marsarn Bach College and she wonders how all the days seem to blur together. Struggling with self isolation and anxiety, Laura finds herself in a seemingly hopeless cycle of self sabotage. That is, until Laura’s repetitive world is turned on its head as she encounters her mirror reflection on a late night drive on abandoned roads leading away from her campus. Startled by seeing herself standing before her, Laura finds herself unwittingly trading places with her reflection. Stuck in this strange new world, Laura finds herself forced to view her own life through the other side of the mirror. She must reckon with what it actually means to let your life pass you by and begin to understand what those around her truly think of her as she watches interactions between her reflection and her peers without the intervention of her own cloudy thoughts. “Narcissus Removed” follows the struggles of an ordinary college student as she traverses through a surreal landscape and is forced to reevaluate her perspective on the world she inhabits and find her way home.