This abstract was written by a current ENG669 student, Fall 2012, and was accepted at the Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Associations 34th Annual Conference “Celebrating Popular/American Cultures in a Global Context”

Presenter: Joseph Wright

Paper Topic area: Experimental Writing and Aesthetics

Presentation Title: This Lyric Forever Error: Kathleen Fraser's Experimental Poetry

Abstract: Kathleen Fraser’s experimental language poetry, as well as her chosen poetic themes, have proved crucial in the development and expansion of poetic genre for women. The epic, lyric, and narrative forms were all the canonical literary tools and genres formed by and readily available to European white males. Consequently, these genres were restrictive and degrading to minority and female poets because of constant comparison to white masculine standards. In the first half of the 20th century, women such as Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Christina Rossetti, and H.D. worked to expand genre and create a voice for women in these traditional Eurocentric male-dominated forms. These women recognized the necessity of forming a new poetic voice for women to use in order to break into the poetic front and, at last, have their unique voice and experience appreciated. Kathleen Fraser advocated for a new effort in the second half of the 20th century that began with the understanding that women needed a new genre, and through subject matter needed to form that genre as a traditional feminized one. In accordance with her creed, Fraser wrote in the emerging experimental/language style and often dealt with the complications of being female as her subject matter. In addition to her poetry, Fraser’s role in HOW(ever), the female-exclusive literary magazine of the late 80’s and early 90’s, was essential in the development of genre in women’s writing. By examining biographical and historical information and implementing a close reading of her poetry, we discover how Fraser used experimental poetry as a means of breaking free from traditional poetic genre and creating a new space that was distinctly feminine. By understanding the ways in which Fraser evolved despite a tumultuous and masculinized poetic realm, a greater understanding of how the female poet functioned in experimental poetics during the second half of the twentieth century can be gained.


This abstract was written by a current ENG669 student, Fall 2012, and was accepted by the U Georgia Graduate Student Conference on the bizarre and the real.


Nick Winstead

North Carolina State University

MA American and British Literature Candidate

“I Think You and I Are Destined to do This Forever:” Iago, the Joker, and the Necessity of Comedic Evil.

“Why so serious” may have become a catch phrase out of the film The Dark Knight, but its roots and sadistically comedic bent can be traced back as far back as Iago, the chief antagonist of Shakespeare’s Othello. While Iago is not the earliest or darkest villain in literature or pop culture, he and the Joker represent aspects of a duality that delves into the use of humor, specifically perverse and dark humor, as a form of evil.  The effects of this comedic evil are used as attempts to wear down and specifically corrupt their respective counterparts, Othello and Batman. In this mentioned duality, Iago presents a more humanized, realistic version of comedic evil, while the Joker embodies the more bizarre, but in ways still believable, form of that evil. By extension, associates such as Cassio, Roderigo, Emilia, and Harley Quinn become instruments of varying levels of willingness in the games these two adversaries play with the objects of their ruin. In examining these two adversaries through close reading of texts such as the seminal Batman stories The Killing Joke, “A Death in the Family”, Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight, as well as Shakespeare’s Othello, I will demonstrate the Joker’s destructive, bizarre props and moral war against Batman and his associates as a natural product of the clever and darkly comedic wordplay and use of props and people by Iago in his campaign against Othello.  By extension, I will explore the necessity of comedic evil as it pertains to the bounds of fiction and how, by extension, these elements play themselves out in the modern world of crime and horror.   


This abstract was written by a Fall 2011 ENG669 student and was accepted at the same U GA conference as above:

Author: Christopher Brean Murray
Institution: North Carolina State University

Title: Gogol’s Masks: Decoding the Bizarre in “The Nose” and “The Overcoat”

While the tales of Nikolai Gogol—particularly “The Nose” and “The Overcoat”—strike
some readers as bizarre or merely humorous, and while they have been read by others as
realistic critiques of Russian bureaucracy, they are, I propose, complex works of fiction,
often more tragic than comic, which not only depict the bewildering adventures of their
characters, but which explore deep human anxieties about alienation, powerlessness, and
the fallibility of the human body. These stories also raise important philosophical
questions about the nature of objective truth and, consequently, about the validity of the
convention of omniscient narration in fiction. As strange as it is that “The Nose” is about
a barber who finds such an appendage in a loaf of bread and another man who wakes to
find that his nose (the same one) has transformed into a State Councilor, when the
character missing the nose declares, “my…nose, which is the same as myself,” we see
that the story uses imagination to explore profound human anxieties about identity and
about its characters’ futile attempts to remedy their spiritual crises. Gogol’s stories often
present absurd and/or bizarre situations, yet, while the details Gogol provides sometimes
lead nowhere in terms of plot development, they reveal the author’s skepticism about the
ability of human beings to access or grasp “reality” or find meaning in life’s misfortunes.
A close examination of Gogol’s literary techniques reveals his tales, often hailed as
comic masterpieces or critiques of bureaucracy, to be wildly imaginative explorations of
human frailty that complicate the notion of objective truth and critique the convention of
omniscient narration in fiction.




These two abstracts were written by first-year MAs in Fall 09 for ENG669. Both were accepted and developed into conference papers. Interesting that both were about bodis.
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Dr. Morillo

ENG 669

11, Nov. 2009



Why Not Telling Tells More Than Not:

The Physical Body as an Unspoken Testament to Truth in The Farming of Bones


In Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones, the question of historical accuracy and the problems arising from the mistranslation of that truth through language and time recurs throughout. Repeatedly, it is expressed that the only way to honor history is to tell it; however, all this telling seems to accomplish very little. Recovering victims of the slaughter rush to tell one another of their adventures, only to be so caught up in their own tales that they pay no attention to one another. Survivors stand in line for days to have their stories recorded and passed on to higher authorities, only to be told that no more stories will be heard, thus invalidating the experiences behind those untold instances of survival. Even the tour guides at the Citadel retell national histories to remind people of their Haitian foundations, only it is foreigners who come to listen, who do not speak Kreyole and are given Haitian tales that are more myth than history, reinforcing that it's the name that matters in making the memory, not so much the actual events.


This is why Danticat's heroine Amabell refuses to orally tell her story to anyone; having seen first-hand the power of language and the destruction it causes when misconstrued, Amabell won't allow any retelling to change her story. For Amabell, history as constructed through language is a lie. However, history as presented through the physical testament of the body cannot lie, and Amabell embraces this alternate telling as the only truthful one, choosing to allow her body, and the missing bodies of those that she loves, to write a story that can never be translated into anything more or less than everything it is. Her refusal to speak her history is her way of preserving her identity, and her truth.


This 300-wd (298 to be exact) abstract, first written for ENG 669, was accepted for a conference in Puerto Rico. For the conference the author wrote this mini-biography for the program:


--- ----  is a Masters candidate in English at North Carolina State University, where she is particularly interested in gender construction studies in 20th century Scottish women's poetry and the impact of language on identity formation and gender representation in post-colonial Caribbean women's literature. With an undergraduate degree from N.C. State University in English with a concentration on Creative Writing, and a background in journalism and new media, Laura is interested in finding new, interactive ways to read and relate to literature. When not submersed in her books, Laura enjoys playing with her dog Rainer Maria and staying up entirely too late listening to good music.

North Carolina State University

Graduate English Department

American and British Literature

Exploring the Perverse Body: The Function of Pain in The Monk

Revenge. Obsession. Desire. Death. These are but a few of the dark and forbidding foundations pervading the genre of the Gothic horror. Though they arrive in different disguises and embodiments within the text, each awful trope is explored in ghastly detail by both characters and readers of Gothic novel . In Matthew "Monk" Lewis' The Monk (1796), the body functions as the vehicle through which disturbing images of physical and mental pain are articulated and examined. The Monk presents a painful passage into the darker elements of life, culminating in scenes of bodily destruction and devastation which are simultaneously experienced by the readers and the characters as both beautiful and terrifying, approaching the sublime. Using theorists such as Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, and Peter Brooks, I explore the manifestation of the body, perversion, and repression to deconstruct the representation of pain in The Monk.

Elaine Scarry writes, “Before destroying language, [physical pain] first monopolizes language, becomes its only subject: complaint, in many ways the nonpolitical equivalent of confession, becomes the exclusive mode of speech.”  Throughout The Monk, the characters demonstrate that pain functions as a way of understanding both the individual body and the societal body.  Lewis embeds his story of destruction with critiques of the Catholic Church, focusing on how the (often hypocritical) concepts of confession and penance affect individual reactions to pain. Pain both separates and connects the characters in the novel as they struggle to develop appropriate language to convey their experiences without lapsing into the destruction of speech.  Lewis’s depiction of the body invites readers to understand pain as a physical and mental construct of identity within the Gothic genre.  My paper explores the body, the Gothic, and the ways in which the perversion of desire throughout The Monk create frames for an exploration of anguish.


299 wds.  This abstract was accepted for a conference in New York.