Example Abstracts – Creative Works

(1) Full abstract: literary studies

He Thought She was Cute but from Outer Space: Gender and the Comic-Grotesque in Lorrie Moore’s Like Life

Anna Muse* and Felicia Poet (Mentor), Department of English

Critics and reviewers of Lorrie Moore’s short fiction have paid special attention to her use of comedy, interpreting it as either a counter the loneliness and isolation her characters, often urban intellectuals displaced in rural cities, suffer over the course of her narratives; as a risk that threatens to sabotage the emotional resonance or seriousness of her art; as an timely evocation of the absurdity of contemporary American life; or as a bivalenced postmodern strategy, a self-reflexive comment on the nature of storytelling. What these reviewers and critics unanimously ignore, however, is that the characters telling the jokes in Moore’s stories, the characters most uncomfortable with their own identity, are women. More specifically, they are women artists and academics who feel marginalized within patriarchal environments, who are painfully aware of their own femininity as a kind of vexed performance. In this paper I argue for a feminist reading of Moore’s work, particularly through Judith Butler’s theory of gender parody and Sally Robison’s reading of the female grotesque as a method of subversion.


(2) Full abstract: creative writing

“Rustic”: A Creative Writing Reading

Anna Muse* and Felicia Poet (Mentor), Department of English

“Rustic” is a creative work in which place plays an integral role. The unnamed protagonist, known only by his address, has been mysteriously ousted from his house, forbidden to have any contact with his wife or children. For weeks he subsists on the trash he scavenges, the grass he pulls from fields and the generosity of the other estranged men who form their own mini-society, a primitive camp, not far from where their loved ones still live. Throughout the piece the interior of the house remains the focus of the narrator’s obsession while affronted with the indignity of a harsher, baser life outside civilization. This theme is doubled through the conflict in which the men speak in over-inflated exchanges and squabble over political intrigue, etc. The protagonist pursues a connection with his children to his own detriment, for he soon discovers a force keeping the men separated from their families. Eventually he discovers a connection to his own children through their art: at the conclusion of the story he finds himself painted on the back of his old house.


(3) Abbreviated abstract: literary studies

The Female Artist in Contemporary Women’s Short Fiction

Anna Muse* and Felicia Poet (Mentor), Department of English

This paper will explore the image of the female artist within contemporary short fiction by Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, and others.


(4) Abbreviated Abstract: Creative Writing

Fiction Reading: Writing Central Illinois.

Anna Muse* and Felicia Poet (Mentor), Department of English

I will present an original short story that deals with the themes of identity and place in Central Illinois.


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