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Department of English & Foreign Languages

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The following students’ works have been acclaimed by and accepted to conferences across the nation.

Nicole Peacock

Southern Studies Conference at Auburn University, Montgomery

Artist and Avatars: An Examination of the Artist Figure as Manifest in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner, arguably the finest American Modernist, used his character, Quentin Compson, as James Joyce had used Stephen Dedalus—to do what Faulkner referred to as “sublimating the actual into the apochryphal.” Quentin Compson appears as a primary character in two of Faulkner’s novels—The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom!. The young Compson, a man something like the young Faulkner, has an artistic temperament and artistic aspirations. Through Faulkner’s well executed “stream of consciousness” device, the reader is invited into the mind of Compson and thus Faulkner. Because of the way Faulkner revisits characters, resurrects philosophies, and ruminates ideals, we as readers or scholars may observe the development and evolution of the artist—the artist within (the avatar) and the artist without (the writer). The avatar assumes form and life. Several dynamics compete in the process. The avatar is canonized and demonized, paralyzed and doomed, all through the medium of language that the writer effects; simultaneously, the creator sublimates, reprojects, and breathes life into the inanimate, inevitably exposing himself.

This paper will explore the notion of art and artistry as portrayed by William Faulkner, specifically by implementing a chosen few of his works. Employing scholarly modus operandi, I will dismantle the labyrinthine orchestration of his literary designs to assess the artist both within and outside the literature in relation to the artistic development, psychology, power, and destiny of the artist and the artist’s avatars.

Nicole Peacock

“No Laughing Matter: Exploring the Art of Humor” University of North Alabama, Graduate Conference

“Who Are You Not?” Using Satirical Humor to Explore Racial Identity An Examination of Two Novels by Percival Everett

Are you who you think you are, or who someone else thinks you are? Are you who you are because you are not someone else? In his satirical novels, I Am Not Sydney Poitier and Erasure, Percival Everett nods to the concept that identity is a relative notion that is defined not so much by the actual, but by the perceptual. This paper will examine the singular way in which Everett uses humor to tame the subject of racial identity. In the former novel, the main character, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Sidney Poitier but who is named “Not Sidney,” finds himself in ridiculous and unbelievable situations that hilariously mirror situations which Sidney Poitier finds himself in some of his more famous movies. The main character in Erasure, Thelonius Ellison, a summa cum laude Ivy Leaguer who is no good at basketball and cannot dance is just not black enough. Everett’s works are contemporary, clever, and teeter on the edge of political incorrectness as he parodies paragons of African American literature and film. He uses wildly conjured monikers, features bold retellings of pilfered plots, and offers up labyrinthine logic for the reader to wade through. It is, of course, his well-constructed humor that tempers his temerity long enough for any reader to appreciate his handling of the up-ended, picayune splitting of hairs in the tangled up mess of us figuring out just who’s who and what does it matter anyway.

Brad Parson

University of Georgia Graduate Conference, “Strangeness”

Julian’s Alternative Christ: The Strange Depictions of Jesus in The Showings of Julian of Norwich

In this paper, I focus on the strange depiction of Christ in Julian of Norwich’s Showings. Throughout this fevered depiction of faith and piety, Julian calls upon a number of disturbing and unusual ways that presents Himself to her. He is depicted as a mother figure, a husband to Mary, and other roles that turn the idea of Christ on their heads. There are also depictions of Christ’s physical body being a source of nourishment, but not in the way that typical Christian doctrine dictates. His side-wound is a particular fascination, and references to this wound as a source of feeding, also like a mother breast-feeding a child, and suddenly His role becomes something stranger than what our culture is used to. By using Julian’s text, I establish what she depicts Christ as in relation to “normal” views of Him in our modern Christian world, and what cultural contexts and revelations come up. I also examine artwork of time that depicted Christ in such a way, and scholarship on certain sects that arose in the Medieval period that believed in similar ideals that Julian set down. Additionally, I discuss historical developments of these beliefs, hoping to uncover what lead to this unusual depiction of Christ, and what it means for the culture of Christianity.

Carrie Busby

NCUR and “Literature and Culture Since 1900” in Louisville, KY

The Memoirist and Her Reader: Dialogic Disclosure and Camaraderie

Although the literary genre of memoir is defined somewhat differently from that of autobiography, essentially the scope of this research deems them one in the same. This project pertains to all forms of lifewriting: memoir, autobiography, journals, diaries, letters, and any other form of creative nonfiction. Through the comprehensive analysis of the literary women’s memoir in both style and substance, this research investigates the genre from its definition and construction to its intentional dialogic quality. The communicated episodes within each memoir converge with readerly understanding to dispatch dialogue, linking the memoirists’ narrative voices and the readers’ interpretive voices. This discourse illuminates patterns of identity both captured by the narrated experiences of the memoirist and discovered through interpreted meanings by the readers.

Disregarding caveats against intentional fallacy, the objective is to reveal a deliberate camaraderie between memoirists and readers; this project reflects on such intentions as disclosed through the dialogic memoir, explains the theory supporting this thesis, and analyzes three distinctive examples of the genre under consideration. The memoirist is both creating nonfictional stories that will reveal information about herself and probing her reader by innovatively urging her to analyze her own stories that mimic or relate, so that the reader, in the course of this examination, develops a stronger assertion of self through her relationship with the memoirist. The reader of memoir is not a fact-checker, but rather a seeker of patterns of meaning that she can relate to, which teach her more about herself and her own truthy stories.

Carrie Busby

Albequerque, NM: 18th- and 19th-century British Women Writers Conference “Customs”

Anne Lister’s Narrative of Female Masculinity: Repressed Femininity of a Lesbian Coded in the Heteronormative

“Sex in Public,” an article by Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, investigates the “normalization that has made heterosexuality hegemonic”; this “privilege[d] . . . sexual culture,” constructed by the idealization of marriages uniting masculine males with feminine females, is defined as the “heteronormative” (548). Anne Lister’s ambiguous gender identity challenges this usual hierarchy in blending masculinity with femininity together without the presence of the male. Restrictive patriarchal social constructions did not permit Anne Lister the satisfaction of disclosing her authentic lesbian self in the public and private arenas of her time. Social behaviors, love relationships, female friendships, familial obligations, and sexual interactions were, and still are, spaces dominated by the heteronormative. Lister’s lesbian identity, and the narrative voice of her journals by extension, exists in the space between the two normatives. In her diaries, Lister’s narrative voice reveals the intensity of her internalized subjectivity. Lister draws on her femininity in the company of her own mind when writing in her journals; however, she performs her masculinity in society and in the bedroom. This confessional documentation of her consciousness reveals the authenticity of her developing lesbian identity; her voice provides a scope for the reader to experience her unconscious mind as she further represses her lesbian identity with gender roles from the heteronormative meme. Lister represents the voice of one woman both struggling to maintain her identity through language, sometimes coded language, and masquerading to subvert her lesbian subjectivity in society with heteronormative masculinity and femininity.

Paula Renzi-Callaghan

Article accepted for publication in Monographic Review

A=nr2, The Geometry of Infinite Possibility in Jorge Luis Borges’ The Circular Ruins

Paula is a Foreign-language major with a concentration in French. Her article will be published in a special issue about the occult in Hispanic literature.

Spring 2012 Spanish 410 Students

Translation of an Informational Booklet

Straight Talk: Direct and Honest Conversations to Have With Your Child

This class translated into Spanish a 12-page booklet for the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition, a program of Family Connection. This booklet provides information for parents regarding substance abuse and bullying in school. The booklet can be found in the Family Connection website ( and was distributed in the school in Shelby County.