2018 Thesis Abstracts

Allison Bartoszewicz
The Island of Misfit Humans Sings Its Anthem of Rapport
Directed by John Duffy

The Island of Misfit Humans Sings Its Anthem of Rapport is a novelette/collection of
short stories about simple encounters between quirky people who are seemingly very different
from one another—in terms of ability, age, sexuality, background, economic status, etc.—to
provide brief and hopeful glimpses past the veil of social separation. Each work challenges
notions of “stranger,” “other,” and “misfit.” Omniscient third-person narration provides honest
observations of each character without placing blatant, definitive labels or even names on his or
her humanity. Amidst the often-punchy dialogue and action, there are momentary hints into
thought processes and prior experiences of each character to provide another vehicle for this kind
of universal empathy. It is my hope that readers ultimately relate, just as the characters do, to the
people in these stories they otherwise may have written off as alien entirely.
Each story can stand on its own, but the more underdeveloped characters in one story
appear in a more prominent role in another, creating a cumulative effect where all characters are
granted opportunities to be holistically seen by readers and understood. There are no clear-cut
protagonists and antagonists, but rather a collection of imperfect, multifaceted humans doing
their best, sometimes succeeding, and sometimes falling short. Though the work subtly touches
on a series of serious issues, it maintains a rather accessible, playful tone that suggests that
despite all of the messiness, there’s a type of child-like freedom that’s possible in the
confrontations of these realities within us and, by extension, in other people. There’s an anthem
of rapport that arises when we realize we are all in this mess together. In reflection on my work, I
want readers to return to the title and consider the fact that maybe we’re all citizens of the Island
of Misfit Humans, and maybe it’s not so bad a place to be after all.

Kathryn Campbell
wanderchild
Directed by Johannes Goranssön​​​​​​​

wanderchild is a collection of poems focused on the story of the wanderchild as they struggle to find their way through a beautiful and dying world. Created by the Forest and loved by the Forest, the wanderchild navigates paths both physical and emotional, love being as multifaceted a verb as it is an emotion. The wanderchild explores these intertwining paths alongside their jaded twin, the wonderchild, but when the wanderchild befriends a princess who has found her way into the Forest, things begin to change. The Forest is decaying and the spires of the castle are only growing brighter. Examining human relationships through non-human and human adjacent characters, wanderchild inhabits a landscape that is our world, but not of our world.  This collection of poetry explores the complex bonds of family, friendship, and the numinous space in between, all through the eyes of a wandering child.

Neil Lewis
FOR FRANCIS 

Directed by Johannes Goranssön

​​​​​​​For Francis is a collection of poetry and flash fiction that explores a horrible future in
snapshot-form. The future it explore is built upon a government-instituted form of extreme
population control by way of medically-based immortality and universal sterilization. The people
—rather, the bodies—who must navigate through a life in this world completely lose themselves
in their endless time, and I write about them. More specifically, I write about the way their lives
change, focusing on identity, relationships, community, self-harm, human worth and
worthlessness, and sanity. To explore this, I tried to assume multiple identities, through both
prose and poetry, that would all have distinctly different ways of adjusting to this new way of
living. These identities and these pieces, though not included chronologically, should build on
each other to take the shape of a steady decline in a community-grasp of reality and humanity
over hundreds of years of interaction with the drug that facilitates immortality. Ultimately, I’ve
found that having limited time is the only factor that allows meaning to be derived of any
experience, that the promise of death is the contrast we need to keep us alive.

Theresa McLean
The Alliance 
Directed by Orlando Menes

My thesis is the first five chapters of a longer novel that tells the story of the heirs of two kingdoms, Amaria and Daniel, who travel to save Daniel’s sister from the clutches of their neighboring enemy kingdom. About six years before the story begins, the king of Lanzia, Amaria’s father, passes away, leaving the kingdom under the rule of his wife, Queen Raquel. The kingdom of Melior took advantage of this and began attacking Lanzia's border in order to gain control of their land. When Amaria reaches marrying age, her mother asks her to marry the Prince of Dumelle, Daniel, in order to protect their country against Melior. Amaria understands this is the best option for Lanzia so she travels to Dumelle to meet Daniel, but they each greatly dislike the other.

It is during this time that Daniel’s eight-year-old sister, Elizabeth, is kidnapped by soldiers of Melior because their king heard of the arranged marriage that would unite the kingdoms of Dumelle and Lanzia. Daniel rides off to save his sister, followed by Amaria, to Daniel’s great annoyance. Together, they travel out of Dumelle, through all of Lanzia, and into Melior, constantly hiding their true identities as the prince and princess of their kingdoms, in order to rescue Princess Elizabeth and stop the war that is about to begin.

My goal as a writer is not just to entertain the reader with fantasy and provide an opportunity of escape for them, but to help them develop empathy from experiencing things from different character points-of-view, strengthen confidence in themselves, and inspire them to accomplish whatever they strive to do. With every story that is read, a new experience is gained. Books can move its reader to tears or rage or an inspiration to live differently. There are countless stories I know I will never forget as they had such a great impact on me and my life. I hope everyone can recognize one day that reading has the power to change the way they see the world.

 

Anna Poltrack

The Human Years

Directed by Valerie Sayers

 

Hannah Provost

On the Corner of Rampant Horse Street & Other Stories

Directed by Valerie Sayers

 

On the Corner of Rampant Horse Street & Other Stories is a collection of six short stories concerned with iterations of loneliness and how setting determines the scope and mood of character interactions. Engaging with characters who are lonely in the absence of others and in their presence, this collection as a whole creates a polyphony of voices that construct loneliness as both transitory and deeply ingrained in place and body.  Spanning the diverse locals of upstate New York, Wales, the Cliffs of Moher, and small-town Vermont, this collection hopes to explore the way in which a person can become circumscribed by a place, by its embedded expectations and history. While largely contextualized by literary realism, several of the stories delve into the strange and unfamiliar, probing the boundaries of the fantastical and the impressionistic. In each instance in which the narratives proffer such questions of perception—as is the case with “Abbey Farm,” “Witness” and “Los Desaparecidos,”—the text relies on an ambiguity that both suggests and refuses psychological roots of the fantastical.

 

Andrea Vale

“Beau Robertson is Not in a War Novel:” Abstract and Critical Introduction
Directed by Roy Scranton

Beau Robertson is not in a war novel. But he thinks he is. This fiction manuscript
follows Robertson in the months immediately after he returns home from serving in
Afghanistan. Though he seems at face value to fill the expected identity of a haunted
veteran, his reason for appearing so is not because he has sincerely experienced trauma:
rather, he is performing for those around him, having deluded himself into thinking that
he is the protagonist of a war novel.
The most prominent concept explored throughout the manuscript is that of the
infallible ‘lone man,’ that is, the several male protagonists of novels and movies who are
steadfastly independent as they walk through life, and who seem to be granted a certain
privileged internal depth that justifies the aloofness that their decided isolation often pairs
with. The character of Beau questions this trope by presenting the internal workings of
one lone man who turns out to not be as intelligent or depthful as his silent external
would have us assume. The second concept explored is that of the haunted returned
veteran and the tropes of familiar war narratives, in which protagonists are respectably
anguished, grief is clean and understandable, and coming home is heroic and fits
expectations. Beau’s narrative challenges the universal authenticity of such narratives by
introducing a returned veteran who is more bored than heroically traumatized. Other
themes explored include communication -- the tendency to always assume that others
understand our internal depth, and the distance that can plague new relationships with
past people -- and egocentrism, the tendency to think of ourselves as the protagonists of
our daily lives.

Elizabeth Walker
Consumption
Directed by Orlando Menes

Meghan Watts
Girl Talk
Directed by Roy Scranton

A coming of age story consisting of a series of vignettes in two periods of transition in the life of the narrator, Girl Talk works within and against the idea of the feminist bildungsroman in its exploration of female friendships in adolescence and identity formation in periods of adjustment. By exploring the deep, significant relationship of Amanda and her friend Gigi the vignettes in this story consider the way that friendships can or might transition as people age and move apart, either deliberately or by chance, and the profound impact that absence has on relationships and communication. This project was heavily influenced by the idea of a feminist bildungsroman, which has been discussed as being more connections-based than a traditional, often male-coded coming of age in isolation model.
Talk is itself a major focus of this project – many of the vignettes are separated by fragments of conversations between the major characters, conversations that are illustrated not to move forward the plot of the piece so much as to serve as a barometer gauging the status of the relationship that is so integral to the heart of the story. Adolescent friendship is marked, in a way, by sharing – sharing in experiences, but also in sharing one’s interiority in a way that is, perhaps, unique to this time period, at least in intensity. This text considers, then, the way that this sort of sharing works, and how it can adjust as a relationship matures. Although ultimately the characters in this piece move beyond their teenage fantasies of bohemian togetherness, conversation is able to provide a means of both reasserting a connection and reminding of the extent to which their relationship is based in the past.