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English Thesis Abstracts

C. Sariah Armstrong (Margarite Landry), 2009

Preparing Novel Draft for Publication

I endeavored to improve my writing by editing the first draft of a science fiction novel that I had written in 2007, and to do this well, I utilized all available resources, including books and articles on writing, classes, advice from professors, as well as researching the necessary scientific elements in my story and reading other author’s works, to analyze how they solve problems with description, characterization, pacing, and other elements commonly found in fiction writing. One of the greatest challenges of this project was that the approach I took was, by nature, not firmly set. Originally, there was to be an equal amount of work done between researching how to write, the technological component of my fiction, as well as looking for potential agents and editors, with the hope that by the end of the school year, I would have a finished product. But a writer needs to be flexible. Much less time was devoted to researching technology than was originally planned, simply because once I had a rudimentary knowledge of how it worked, the technology’s function in the story became based much more on my own imagination, rather than hard fact. While I do not yet have a finished draft of the novel, there have been many beneficial derivatives of my work. Most importantly, my writing skill has increased. I do not have a finished draft, but I have a much more readable draft that I will continue to work on. I have learned how to create a believable, fictional world, introduce the research I’ve done without boring a reader with unwanted information, as well as work in characterization and themes without seeming to intentionally preach to my audience. I have written all this down, and have started to compile a short list of tips and important things to remember while I write.”

Amy Bobrowski (Doris Schmidt), 2004

My Point: A Guide for Student Newspapers

Collegiate newspapers have a staff that changes almost every year. Training takes much time and effort. Not all staff members are experienced in media communication. Although there are many full-length textbooks that explain the necessary steps of publishing a student newspaper, there are few general guides that explain the most important factors. “My Point, A Guide for Student Newspapers,” was created. The sections of the 19-page guide discuss how to write and structure each type of newspaper article (features, news, sports, etc.), photography standards and effective layout. Each section contains at least one example newspaper article, exemplifying the guidelines in practice. Student newspapers were collected from public state colleges (much like Fitchburg State University). These newspapers were analyzed to discover their areas of strength and weakness. The guide will be distributed to the Fitchburg State University newspaper, journalism classes, and to collegiate newspapers that have allowed their publication to be studied. Newspaper staffs will have to spend less time training individuals and will have an easy-to-read reference guide to answer their style questions.

Alison Butland (Irene Martyniuk), 2006

Losing Pride and Gaining Prejudice

Bridget Jones’s Diary has sold over 10 million copies in 35 countries. Helen Fielding’s heroine has become an everywoman, emblematic of the twentieth-century singleton striving to lose a few pounds and to find a husband. Yet one woman not represented by Bridget is Elizabeth Bennet of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Fielding has admitted to “borrowing” from Austen. Thus, the novels have an interdependent relationship. There are many classifications of literary symbiosis; this one is defined as parasitic because Bridget acts as the detrimental guest to the host text. Bridget demeans the classic Regency novel by labeling it as the mother hen of the chick-lit movement. Reading the texts and viewing the film adaptations demonstrates the regression of the heroine. Elizabeth is renowned for her intellect and wit while Bridget is notorious for her “verbal incontinence” and hangovers. Elizabeth’s literary offspring has lost her pride and principles. Readers cannot help but be prejudiced against Bridget. And yet, she is currently enjoying a wave of popularity. In 2004 English women voted Pride and Prejudice “the most life changing novel.” Two centuries later, the novel remains relevant and revolutionary to women. The same cannot be said for Bridget Jones’s Diary, which is a fad and will fade from public consciousness. In this paper, I will discuss why Bridget is currently popular, how she will fade, and why Elizabeth Bennett will outlive the “child of Cosmopolitan culture.”

Sara Comeau & Amanda Buckingham (Annamary Consalvo), 2013

What is 'The Canon'?: An Investigation Into the Selection, Connection, and Relevance of Literature in the Modern High School Classroom

This Honors Thesis project is centered on exploring and demonstrating the impact of teaching literature effectively?in our modern schools. It is important to likewise explore, define, and draw connections between the canon’s components and how as future educators we will be introducing and teaching concepts related to the canon. Since the term, “canon” is very broad, we offer our re-thinking of the term, based upon extant literature in light of what we understand as the current and future needs of 21st century high school students. Ways that high school English teachers interpret and select from the literary “canon” were investigated through interviews with teachers as well as online and print resources. Together, these interviews and resources were used to draw connections between how?the “canon” was being defined and utilized in comparison to how it could be taught in the 21st century. In this project, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is shown as representing the U.S. high school canon and explores what education current high school students can obtain from this novel based on its part in the canon. An overview unit of The Great Gatsby is presented to reflect current best practices and use of the canon in today’s high school classrooms.

Stephanie Fielding (Benjamin Railton), 2007

A Broken Hope House

The purpose of this project is to create a 50-60 page novella based around the idea of domestic violence. The novella itself will be fictional, however it will be based on possible events and occurrences. Based on research on domestic violence statistics, character development reasoning, and probable event timelines, the novella will show in an interesting and enlightened way the circle of violence surrounding domestic abuse, and ways it can be foreseen, avoided, and handled. Two main characters, Rayne and Matthew, meet and marry within the pages of the novella, and then the plot plays out as Rayne experiences violence from Matthew and eventually gains the courage to leave. This project is meant to illustrate signs of domestic violence, and also ways to avoid and escape it. It is targeted at a female audience as casual reading and therefore is something that is both informational and entertaining.

Tran Lu (Steven Edwards), 2014

Creative Short Stories

A writer is always learning how to creatively tell a story that is out of his/her comfort zone. For my honors thesis project this year, I am in the process of constructing two short stories in two very different genres, both of which present unique challenges to me as a beginning writer—one story is a psychological thriller whose protagonist is a murderer, and the other is a melodrama centered around a couple’s wedding day. I have been reading and studying published works of short fiction to better understand how other writers work within these genres. I have also been consulting with my thesis advisor throughout my writing process, from initial drafting and revision to sentence-level concerns and the making of final edits. One main challenge for both stories is how to structure a story so as to heighten its tension and achieve a nuanced psychological effect on an audience. Specifically, I am working to clarify my characters’ motivations in their actions early on, as well as the stories go along, with the goal of achieving a climax and/or resolution at the end that brings it all together.

Ashley Malouin (Aruna Krishnamurthy), 2008

The Fairy Tale & Female Identity in A.S. Byatt's Short Fiction

This thesis focuses on the work of A. S. Byatt’s short stories, their relationship to fairy tales, and readings of them in the context of fairy tales. The stories examined include “Cold,” “A Stone Woman,” “The Thing in the Wood,” “Baglady,” “A Lamia in the Cevennes,” “The Glass Coffin,” and “The Story of the Eldest Princess.” While Byatt’s work has often been explored, much of the attention has been given to her novel Possession; this thesis furthers the discussion of her shorter works. As there are limited sources in the analysis of these works, the primary resource was the stories themselves. In reading the texts, elements of the fairy tale, or wonder tale, could often be found. More specifically, Byatt’s work is an exploration of female identity and the individual narratives are a reflection of that identity. In some cases, Byatt uses her writing to deconstruct the classic fairy tale, as in “The Story of the Eldest Princess,” where the princess is aware of the fairy tale she is trapped in, and consciously decides to step away from it in order to pursue her own identity. In others, such as “A Stone Woman” and “Cold,” the elements of wonder serve to show a woman’s mental and emotional transformation and acceptance of identity in a physical manifestation.

Kathleen Morrissey (Frank Mabee), 2013

Escaping Containment: The Voice of the Female Narrator

During the Romantic period, several writers explored the emotional and spiritual aspects of marginalized members of society. This could be perceived as a reaction to the treatment of “undesirables” during the Age of Enlightenment; according to Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, the mad, the vagrant, and the suffering were confined in institutions all over Europe. However, the representation of the “undesirables” varied based on the gender of the narrator; a?study of the gender dynamics between the sane and the confined opens a discussion about female narrators. William Wordsworth uses a masculine narrator in the text, “The Ruined Cottage”; a peddler shares the story of Margaret, who deteriorates into a ghostly figure as her losses grow. In “Suffering and Sensation in The Ruined Cottage”, Karen Swann argues that Margaret’s deterioration is accounted systematically in order to dehumanize her into a “ghost” trapped by domesticity. Percy Shelley uses a masculine narrator in the text, “Julian and Maddalo”, who dehumanizes the maniac. In Charlotte Smith’s poem, “Beachy Head”, a gender-anonymous narrator recognizes a connection between “inmates,” the shepherd’s animals, and the Omnipotent. Anne Radcliffe’s poetry experiments with gender identity while focusing on suffering characters, like Emily in The Mysteries of Udolpho. Mary Robinson writes empathetic poetry about undesirables with narrators of various genders. My conclusion is that the feminine narrators do not openly recognize as female and have a sense of camaraderie with undesirables. These narrators attempt to “free” themselves and the unfortunate characters, disturbing binary gender codes and the entire patriarchal system.

Leah Pusateri (Joseph Moser), 2014

Music is More Than Wealth and Fame

While a lot of mainstream music is produced with shallow lyrics and catchy beats in order to appease the majority of the population, there are still musicians out there who are not in the industry only to make a name for themselves and become rich. Protest and political music have been around for decades, and these artists use their talents in order to create music that will raise awareness about important political and social issues across the globe. By looking at the history of protest music from the 1930s up until today, examining the lyrics of pertinent political or protest songs, and by reading biographies of and interviews with the artists, such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and U2, I was able to learn about the different views and stances of these musicians, as well as their motivation to write their music. Actions speak louder than words, and therefore, I also looked into how these musicians gave back to society by donating to charities, participating in community service, starting organizations, or even playing in relief concerts. More often than not, these artists, such as Bruce Springsteen and State Radio, were politically active. Another observation after researching the history of protest music was its evolution in society. While the ‘60s and ‘70s were popular decades for protest music, today, it is not nearly as mainstream. People today are not as inclined to listen to celebrities who have something to say about a political or social issue as they were back in the ‘60s and ‘70s with the anti-war movement raging. While there are still a few artists today who dedicate their music to raising awareness, it is not as prominent a genre as it used to be.

Michelle Trilling (Joseph Moser), 2014

Adaptation of Books from the Dystopian Society Genre

In this thesis I will investigate the process as to how novels become films, specifically novels from the dystopian society genre. I started this process by pulling dystopian adaptations from different decades to explore how they have grown and whether or not time has made them more effective works over the years. The four adaptations I have selected are Fahrenheit 451, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner), The Children Of Men and The Hunger Games. I will explore each of these adaptations in the form of case studies; I will thoroughly investigate each of the adaptations, looking for significant differences and the reasons why such changes were made. In addition to analysis of these differences, I will look closely into how the adaptations were perceived by fans of the books, as well as the general public and professional film critics. Adaptations follow the same general patterns and problems, specifically as to whether or not the adaptation can stand on its own, without the audience having to read the novel to understand. The elements of adaptations, their processes and the perceptions of those who have an understanding of both the novel and the film will each be explored, while giving definitions of “successful” and “unsuccessful” dystopian adaptations and investigating examples of each. An example of a successful adaptation is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and an example of an unsuccessful adaptation is Total Recall (2012) (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale).