Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures


Creative Writing

First Advisor

Elise Blackwell


Burn is a retelling of Virgil's Aeneid set in the contemporary American South. The novel tells the story of Angie, a young woman who continually seeks the stability that her childhood lacked. Angie is an interpretation of Aeneas as a traumatic hero, and as such, she continually tries to revise her history and rewrite it. Burn begins with Angie's adolescent proclamation of love for her best friend, Margaret, and throughout the difficulties of her life, Angie attempts to return to that moment of intimacy. However, Angie's path leads her far from Margaret and small-town South Carolina. Escaping to the freedom of New Orleans, Angie engages in a few romances before beginning a serious relationship with Nadia, an architect-turned-artist. Through Nadia, Angie recognizes the destructive patterns of her history, and she leaves both Nadia and New Orleans to face that past. Returning to South Carolina as an adult, Angie visits her mother and rekindles her friendship with Margaret; however, Angie's history still follows her as she finds herself enmeshed in cycles of violence. News of Nadia's suicide sends Angie into a tailspin, and this unraveling is exacerbated by her discovery that Margaret's husband is abusive. Angie's sense of the boundaries of time and space evaporate, and she resorts to violence in order to reclaim that perfect moment of love and security for which she has always longed.