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LTWR Graduate Student News 

  • Congratulations to Nik Barnes! 

Congratulations to Nik Barnes, who successfully defended her thesis, “This Carpet Isn't New: An Exploration of the Medical Discourse Surrounding Asexuality and the Construct of Disability.” Nik’s thesis examines the intersection of compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory able-bodiedness through a nuanced weaving of critical and creative writings that are torn apart, then reassembled with photos, illustrations, and three-dimensional documentary artifacts, to embody the fragmented self of those situated in such a space. These collages are then hand-stitched together in the form of a physical, artistic, commonplace book. 

  • Congratulations to Cynthia Bazan!

Congratulations to Cynthia Bazan, who successfully defended her thesis, "Latina's Rejection of Gender and Cultural Roles by Using Writing to Obtain Agency: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Poet X's Exploration of the Challenges of Hybrid Identity." Cynthia's thesis examines two recent and acclaimed YA novels by Latinx authors and argues for the importance of bringing contemporary Latina voices into existing scholarly conversations about Chicanx feminism. Cynthia identifies how the protagonists in these novels navigate a wide range of intersectional issues related to their identity as daughters of recent immigrants. In particular, Cynthia analyzes how the protagonists use the discourse of the writing process, literary exploration, and the identity position of "writer" to enact what Anzaldúa theorizes as neplanta, the space of inbetweenness. 

  • Congratulations to Amanda Vail!

Congratulations to Amanda Vail, who successfully defended her thesis, "Sacrifice (Yourself!) in The Rainbow Fish and The Giving Tree."  Amanda's thesis contributes to the fast-growing literary scholarship on children's literature by arguing that these beloved texts enable the promotion of racist and ableist ideologies and mythologizing of maternal self-sacrifice, respectively, by disguising their narratives underneath a veneer of beautiful artwork and anthropomorphized characters.

  • Congratulations to Jake Lovell!

Congratulations to Jake Lovell, who successfully defended his thesis, "The Road West: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Dystopian Westerns, and Cannibals." Jake's thesis examines Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road and argues for the interpretative value of viewing the work through the lens of the western and frontier studies. Jake argues that this novel, set in a dystopian future that has not often been read by scholars as a strict western, covers issues such as colonial resource exploitation, cannibalism, violence, and masculine stereotypes that uniquely tie into the frontier mythology that undergirds the western. Jake's analysis raises provocative questions about national mythologies and their power to maintain damaging and violent relationships and cultural contexts.

  •  Congratulations to Jaimi Heptinstall!

Congratulations to Jaimi Heptinstall, who successfully defended her thesis, "The Feminist Portrayal of Snow White in ABC's Once Upon a Time."  Jaimi's thesis argues that the tv show Once Upon a Time revises the Snow White character from Disney's 1937 film to produce an empowered, heroic Snow White that contrasts with her counterpart, Mary Margaret, who is "cursed" with stereotypical femininity.  Mary Margaret's journey into whole personhood functions as a metaphor for the journey of women who seek to resist patriarchal expectations and imperatives.

  • Congratulations to CSUSM Graduate Dean’s Award recipient, Christine Briggs!

The Graduate Dean's Award recognizes excellence in M.A.-level projects for graduate students who graduated during the current academic year (in this case, AY 2020-2021). Christine competed with students from across campus to win this award. In her thesis, “Feminist Speculative Fiction and Reproductive Futurisms in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents and Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God" Christine explores the representations of female communities in dystopian feminist science fiction and considers how literary traditions such as Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, and feminist fabulation help readers identify historical and on-going systemic gendered and racial injustices. Christine’s thesis research and literary analysis emphasize the power of literary works to imagine more just futures. 

  • Congratulations to Christine Briggs! 

Congratulations to Christine Briggs, who successfully defended her thesis, "Feminist Speculative Fiction and Reproductive Futurisms in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents and Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God". Christine's thesis examines the complex representation of motherhood and its relationship to science fiction conventions; she finds that authors such as Butler and Erdrich use the futurist setting afforded by science fiction to explore the ongoing struggles for women of color to have bodily autonomy, civil rights, and a sense of community. Utilizing a range of theoretically complex discussions of the history of science fiction alongside more contemporary explorations of critical race studies in speculative fiction, Christine explores timely matters of gender and racial justice.

  • Congratulations to Robbie Hammel! 

Congratulations to Robbie Hammel, who successfully defended his thesis, "Schooled in the Whirpool". The thesis, a collection of stories, presents a series of characters struggling with failure and loss in a variety of American environments, eastern and western, urban and suburban and rural. These stories are convincingly realist, with tinges of absurdist humor, and they frequently present characters uncertain of their connection to the world around them.

  • Congratulations to Derek Heid!

Congratulations to Derek Heid, who successfully defended his thesis, "Genre, Form, and Subversion in Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon". Derek's thesis explores the subversion of genre expectations in superhero comics through an examination of disruptions of linear narrative, the semiotics of non-textual language, and the complications of hero/antihero archetypes in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s nineteen-issue run of the Hawkeye comic book series.

  • Congratulations to Francisco "Frank" Ortega! 

Congratulations to Frank Ortega, who successfully defended his thesis, "The Rhetoric of Lowriding: A Misunderstood Cultural Movement in the Public Realm." In this very interesting and insightful piece, Frank argues that the car that so visibly represents the tradition of lowriding here in Southern California is actually a textual representation of a complex culture that has consciously and strategically developed to "write back" against systematic discrimination and the stereotypes often ascribed to those of Mexican descent. His passion and insider-perspective come through clearly in his thesis and make it an enlightening piece that is a pleasure to read.

  • Introducing the Schmidt Scholarship for Incoming M.A. Students!

The LTWR Department is thrilled to announce the inauguration of the Schmidt Graduate Scholarship in Literature & Writing Studies, available to incoming students starting in Fall 2018.  Two incoming students will be selected for a $2000 scholarship to be distributed during the first semester of the M.A. program.   

Recent Graduates

Congratulations to our most recent M.A.s, who successfully defended their theses!

Nik Barnes, "This Carpet Isn't New: An Exploration of the Medical Discourse Surrounding Asexuality and the Construct of Disability", 2021 (directed by Prof. Francesco Levato)

Cynthia Bazan, "Latina's Rejection of Gender and Cultural Roles by Using Writing to Obtain Agency: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Poet X's Exploration of the Challenges of Hybrid Identity", 2021 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush)

Amanda Vail, "Sacrifice (Yourself!) in The Rainbow Fish and The Giving Tree", 2021 (directed by Prof. Heidi Breuer)

Jake Lovell, "The Road West: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Dystopian Westerns, and Cannibals", 2021 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush) 

Jaimi Heptinstall, "The Feminist Portrayal of Snow White in ABC's Once Upon a Time", 2021 (directed by Prof. Heidi Breuer)

Christine Briggs, "Feminist Speculative Fiction and Reproductive Futurisms in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents and Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God", 2020 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush)

Robbie Hammel, "Schooled in the Whirpool", 2020 (directed by Prof. Mark Wallace)

Derek Heid, "Genre, Form, and Subversion in Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon", 2020 (directed by Prof. Francesco Levato)

Francisco Ortega, "The Rhetoric of Lowriding: A Misunderstood Cultural Movement in the Public Realm", 2020 (directed by Prof. Susie Cassel)

Jeremy Whittaker, "Exploring Science-Fantasy, Gender, and Postcolonial Issues in Netflix's Disenchantment", 2020 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush)

Melissa Hurt, "(Sub)urbanites Under the Influence: High Crimes and Border Crossings in the Addiction Narratives of Junky and Breaking Bad", 2020 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush)

Mikayla Keehn, "Composing Herself: Joan Didion and the Art of Public Bereavement", 2020 (directed by Prof. Martha Stoddard Holmes)

Jillian Sandvig, "'I Wanna Do Bad Things [to] You:' Complicating Representations of Southern Women and Cultural "Others" in Absalom, Absalom! and True Blood", 2020 (directed by Prof. Rebecca Lush)

Andy McIntyre, "Tender Eyes", 2019 (directed by Prof. Heidi Breuer)

Thomas Bricke, "Translating Hans Fallada's children's book, Geschichten aus der Murkelei, from German into English," 2019 (directed by Prof. Oliver Berghof)

Kerry Baker, "Representations of Witches and Witchcraft in Children's Literature," 2019 (directed by Prof. Heidi Breuer)

Elizabeth Roush, "The Subversive Recontextualization of Celebrity Images," 2019 (directed by Prof. Heidi Breuer)

Erica Wahlgren, "Constructed Landscapes: Impact on Physical Space and Bodily Experience," 2019 (directed by Prof. Francesco Levato)

Jen Strawser, "Masculine Trauma in William Faulkner's 'Sound and the Fury'," 2019 (directed by Prof. Mark Wallace)

Yaz Manley, "Rendered Out of Commission: Othered Arabs and Abject Rhetoric in Service of Empire," 2019 (co-directed by Prof. Francesco Levato and Prof. Sandra Doller)

Kristian Pr'Out, "Egoism and the Post-Anarchic: Max Stirner's New Individualism," 2019 (directed by Prof. Oliver Berghof)