Title

Ego Sum

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Art

First Advisor

Elise Blackwell

Abstract

The use of first-person narration in literature has traditionally been used to impart a sense of intimacy, immediacy, and relatability between the reader and the work’s narrator. First-person narration has also traditionally acted as an initial step in crafting a signature voice or style for fiction writers in creative writing—one that is often abandoned as the writer’s style matures. Additionally, the cultural climate of this and preceding years has engendered many debates and discussions centering on which voices are heard and received as credible witnesses to political, institutional, and social events. The MeToo Movement, Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and mass killings committed by Elliot Rodgers and Alex Minassian provoked an alignment of the male voice with first-person narration as simultaneously credible by merit of the speaker’s gender, and senseless by merit of the substance of the speaker’s addresses. Ego Sum is a collection of stories, entirely narrated in the first-person by specific male characters, all of whom are dominated by a hamartia created and fueled by an element of toxic masculinity, with one exception. The final story breaks from the first-person narration intentionally to explore how unmooring gender and self-identification from origin stories can allow for a more constructive, generative exchange. Rather than an argument for or against gender dynamics, the thesis is an exploration of gender and cultural influences, expressions, and failures that sound the tensions between what we commonly believe to be masculine, and what we commonly believe to be human.

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