2020 Thesis Abstracts, Photos, & Personal Reflections

Anderson Stephen Pic

Stephen Anderson

Please click here to read Stephen's personal reflection.





Stephen's Honors Thesis Abstract
Advisor: Steve Tomasula

                                                             LaGuardia: A Novel

           Zachariah Young was a seminarian, training diligently for Catholic priesthood, when the modern world ended. Refusing to give up his religious moorings, Zach rises as one of the few remaining figures of religious authority in the United States. Claiming to be called by God to the prophetic life, he forms and guides a group called the Remnant as their priest and political leader. Young and inexperienced, Zach faces a world which is perpetually suspicious of his religious status and struggles internally with his own crises of faith.

            The Remnant is driven by need to the doorstep of the Society in New York City, perhaps the only viable attempt to reconstitute civilized life in the world. For the Society’s leaders, order and stability must be maintained at all costs and harsh lines must be drawn to ensure survival. They issue a ban on all religion to prevent more conflict. If Zach hopes to bring his people under the protection of the Society, he must either convince them to lift the ban or allow his people to abandon their faith. Outside the walls of the Society, there is little hope of survival in a chaotic world of bandits, cults and rapists.

As the acclaimed prophet of God, Zach must find his voice in his darkest hour in order to lead his people and convince the Society to change its position. But all is not well in Zach’s own flock as tensions rise and his dealings with the Society seem to grow sour. As conflict stirs about him and Zach’s own faith undergoes the test, his soul becomes a battleground between hope and despair, and his mind an arena for debate about his own sanity and worth. Who is he to speak for God? Who is he to act as priest when he was never even ordained? Who is a prophet without his voice, and who is a leader without true belief in his own cause?

Ultimately, Zach must decide what is best for his people and what is right for his own path to salvation. In this tale of apocalypse and spirit, the very shape of the new world order is at stake. But it is the fate of Zach’s soul that is the key to what kind of a world it will be.

Patrick Harig 

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Advisor: Johannes Gorranson 

                                                                           Pig Heart

Pig Heart​ is a novel about evil. It is an examination of the individual experience of evil, both as a personal reality and as a natural force. The story centers around a lone man’s descent, both figuratively and literally, into a world of surreal horror that lurks just beneath the surface of his familiar banal existence. Drawing on Dante, William Blake, David Lynch, American Naturalism, and classic Gothic literature, the novel collects an array of thematic and formal concerns surrounding the human drive to deviance, as well as the existence of an undercurrent of primitive instinct that can erupt through the surface of everyday experience, individuality and identity, and grotesque structures and architecture--specifically the modern city as a grotesque and gothic entity. The novel explores the psychological significance of interiors and structures by borrowing from classic Gothic novels and from the materiality of Naturalist authors. This work engages with what is most interesting about structures, interiors, and closed systems: the possibility of intrusion, or the thrilling invasion of some unknowable but undeniably powerful force. This thesis represents the first half of the novel, in which the protagonist discovers and begins to navigate this hidden world of perversion and violence. 

Matthias Nicole Pic

Nicole Matthias

Please click here to read Nicole's personal reflection.





Nicole's Honors Thesis Abstract
Advisor: Valerie Sayers

Micah is a novel-screenplay hybrid that portrays the crimes of a young man desperate to feel remorse. The violent urge that pushes him to kill shares the same base desire that pushes others to indulge in simpler guilty pleasures. This thriller employs conventions of the genre while also diving deep into our justifications for acting in destructive ways. While we wonder if anyone is safe from Micah, we also consider his motivations and desires, attempting to map them on to our own.

            Inspired by television shows like You and novels like American Psycho, the character Micah represents a darker side of humanity that people do not often care to read about. However, it is there, and it exists in each and every one of us to differing degrees. Micah, therefore, is a satire, a wild exaggeration of what happens when our fantasies go unchecked. As a novel-screenplay hybrid, Micah represents various forms of media and comments on their effects on how people interact with the world. It is meant to unnerve the reader and force them to reconsider how they view the people around them: are they tools for entertainment or friends deserving of love and care? This experiment called Micah pushes the bounds of fiction to invite the reader to look deeper into its pages.

Smith Matt Pic

Matthew Smith

Please click here to read Matt's personal reflection.





Matt's Honors Thesis Abstract
Advisor: Steve Tomasula

            Still recovering from the death of his son a year ago, a university professor receives a grant to research Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in the National Archives of Chile. He sets his hopes high, intending to publish a scholarly article about Chile’s modern-day relationship with this dark history, wanting to elucidate the relationship between their past and present—how, he wonders, does a country’s understanding of its past informs how it acts in the present? While in Santiago de Chile, however, anti-government protests begin, and in the middle of these demonstrations the professor notes eerie connections between the twentieth-century dictatorship and the current state of affairs, even as his own traumatic past leaks into his present. He imagines he sees his son at a protest, alive and well, haunting him from beyond the grave, and attempts to catch up to him amidst the roar of revolution. He is forced to reckon with such questions as, what do the histories we tell ourselves say about us as individuals, and as a culture? To what extent is the creation of narratives an inevitably fictional enterprise? How do the fictions about our past have real consequences in our lives?

Truluck Catherine Pic

Catherine Truluck

Please click here to read Catherine's personal reflection.





Catherine's Honors Thesis Abstract
Advisor: Valerie Sayers

“On Through”

With my project, “On Through,” I hoped to express how identity can be discovered through learning from others, not just by oneself, and how the scars of past relationships can affect people even after ending such relationships. While my initial goal was to subvert certain themes pervasive throughout much of literature, I found that adding to these preexisting themes and morphing them for my characters’ own struggles was a much more attainable goal then just an attempt at subversion. The story itself is a bildungsroman that delves into the emotions of Saf, a twenty-year-old woman who has recently broken off an unhealthy relationship with a being named Mear. Saf carries around the weight and guilt of having done so in the physical manifestation of a seashell, since this shell is what allowed her to speak with Mear and form such a connection. The narrative hops back and forth between present and past, emphasizing how entangled her emotions continue to be with her life before the present. The anxiety and fear that swarms in her head obstruct her from initially forming deeper friendships with others, but she learns that she must open herself up to people she can trust and the world around her in order to truly heal. I believe the thesis can help contribute to a discourse about the usefulness of YA fiction and its place with what is considered more adult, universal texts. More than anything, however, I hope that the story is fantastical enough to entertain but realistic enough to help those who are encountering similar issues feel like they are not alone.