Graduate research in literature in the English Department spans a range of topics, historical periods, and critical approaches. Scroll down to see what some of our M.A and Ph.D. students have been working on.
Sara Gabai, M.A. Thesis: Rendering the Holocaust Through Fantasy
Many critics feel that Holocaust fantasy is problematic. But lately we have seen more and more narratives using fantasy to represent the Holocaust. In my thesis I analyze short stories, a novel, one poem and a picture book, using various fantasy theories to show how fantasy enables writers to attempt to describe the indescribable--the Holocaust of the Jewish people.
Etti Gordon Ginzurg, Ph.D. Dissertation: From Sense to Nonsense: The Hidden Autobiography of Laura E. Richards
The dissertation suggests a novel reading of the nonsense poems and two autobiographies of nineteenth-century American children's writer Laura E. Richards (1850-1943). The fact that these works have been barely given any serious scholarly attention raises fundamental questions concerning genre, gender and canonicity. Reading these works in the wider context of their author's life and times reveals a surprisingly sophisticated writer who found an original way to bypass gender constraints and safely give vent to a myriad of issues, private and public alike, under the veil of nonsense.
Elizabeth Goldmeier, M.A. Thesis: Child Narration in Contemporary Adult Fiction
My thesis focuses on child narrators in adult fiction. My research tries to answer questions like: Why do authors use child narrators to tell stories to adults? Why is using a child narrator different and – in some cases – more effective than using a child focalizer or an adult narrator? Is it ethical for adult authors to presume to present the child perspective, and is the perspective they create convincingly authentic?
Anne Marie Novak, M.A. Thesis: The Dybbuks of Contemporary Polish Literature and Cinema
As Poland struggles to accept its Jewish past as part of its own, a nostalgic attitude toward Jewish culture has developed in post-communist Poland that ranges from denial of anti-semitism to interest in former symbiosis. In my thesis I present the entangled histories of Polish and Yiddish literature by investigating the dark Jewish spirits of the past that come back, in various forms, in the pages of Polish modernist and contemporary literature, including as Dybbuks, Jewish ghosts, that haunt Polish texts.
Staci Rosenbaum, M.A Thesis: The Picaresque Tradition and the Immigrant Experience in Contemporary American Fiction
My thesis research involves using the picaresque tradition – the genre and the criticism surrounding it – as a springboard for understanding a current trend in fiction, that of novels focused on the stories and experiences of immigrants. I will draw on studies of the picaresque tradition from its inception in order to understand the characteristics of the genre and will apply the insights of this critical literature to contemporary American novels about immigration.
Egonne Roth, Ph.D. Dissertation:Olga Kirsch, A Critical Biography
In this critical biography of Olga Kirsch, a South African Jewish poet who immigrated to Israel in 1948, I am exploring the relationship between the life story of the poet and her poetry, especially why as English mother-tongue speaker she published mainly in Afrikaans while already living in Israel.
Jessica Zimble, Ph.D. Dissertation: Women in Motion:Narratives of Imprisonment and Escape in Eighteenth-Century British Fiction
The theme of imprisonment and escape pervades Samuel Richardson’s seminal mid eighteenth-century novel, Clarissa. My dissertation argues that this recurring motif is not just a theme but a reflection of ideology put into narrative practice that addresses three hot topics in eighteenth-century culture: female choice in marriage, chastity, and suicide. I contextualize the tradition Richardson inherited on these contemporary issues by considering conduct books and sermons that spanned the long eighteenth century. I argue that Clarissa complicated the seemingly black-and-white discourse through its intricate plot and narrative form.