Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Chris Nelson

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Depending on the Weather and Other Stories is a collection of short stories set in the rural and small town communities of contemporary America. The problem my characters address is their changing relationship with the American Dream. While my baby boomer characters tend to believe the Dream is alive and achievable, their children are growing more disenchanted and skeptical of the Dream. The disconnections between these generations are largely due to a credibility gap and a shifting set of generational values. These values have shifted for the younger generation because of an evolving (or devolving) American culture.

My stories are written in what I’m calling the “dirty domestic,” a subgenre of dirty realism. This is an appropriate style of writing for my content because the genre is traditionally used to depict bleak worlds and discontented characters. Another traditional tenet of dirty realism is the use of violence. My work shows how violence plays a pivotal role in both the romantic and familial relationships within the genre. While communication isn’t always easy for these types of characters, violence sometimes speaks the loudest.

I anticipate Depending on the Weather and Other Stories being published and entering into the contemporary dialogue of American letters. I see this collection expressing similar concerns with American culture as other writers of my generation. Lastly, I view this collection as a finger on the pulse of the American discontent. The characters in this collection are ready for a better shake in life, even if they know one isn’t coming.

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