Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Harris


The Blue Lights is a collection of episodic short stories that looks at life along Florida's Space Coast, a strip of beach best known for its shuttle launches and proximity to Disney World. Most of the stories are set along the Atlantic, and all of them chronicle the day-to-day activities of an insular and antiquated beach culture. The stories are unhurried, subtle in construction and inward rather than dramatic, meant to represent a pre-Internet, pre-cell phone Florida where characters stumble into small yet illuminating moments of self-realization set in recognizable, though run-down, places.

Though the stories vary stylistically, The Blue Lights relies on a visual style heavy in its employment of metaphor and lyricism, emphasizing alliterative diction and an elliptical syntax to view unglamorous characters in moments of crisis. The stories are meant to convey the feeling of real life in that these illuminating moments are rather more fleeting than consequential. Plot is developed to emphasize tension more so than theatrics, highlighting human isolation as a way to both invite and repel the nostalgia common to Florida's identity as a fruitful paradise.

The stories give voice to characters who--if clumsily posed--embrace the beauty and chaos of a marginalized life. In short, The Blue Lights deals with those left behind or caught in between, seeking always to dignify the characters by qualifying the act of survival as an art in and of itself, focusing on domesticity and local drama to explore the unseen side of the familiar.