This last March, I submitted my thesis for approval in order to earn my Master of Arts in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University. This journey has shown me that I have quite a lot to say about literature. Included on this page are some of my favorite papers, demonstrating that I don’t just write about my personal journey but that I also write about scholarship, literature, and culture.
While many artists and authors were leaving the United States hoping to find more inspiration for their art in Europe, William Carlos Williams was interested in communicating the voice of America through his poetry. His voice developed over time due to his relationship with several poets, Ezra Pound being one of the most influential on this development. However, Williams stood out from other poets during the Modernist movement because he wanted to communicate a vision of America that other writers seemed to be ignoring. A conversation between Williams and Pounds highlights this difference in Williams’s artistic vision. The two were arguing about their different poetic visions and Williams says that he “contended for bread, [Pound] for caviar” (Movius 383). This dispute demonstrates the conflict between American writers communicating their vision on European soil and those communicating their vision on American soil – Williams wanted to present the common, everyday life of small town America while writers like Pound wanted to be inspired by the tradition and majesty of cultures that he felt had more depth and sophistication. Overall, Williams’ poetry demonstrates a vision of America that most poets were ignoring.
There is no denying the fact that the Victorian Era of British history is characterized by duality. In several examples of literature from the time period, authors depict characters who represent the upper and lower classes in ways that reflect the stereotypes associated with the Victorians. The upper class is regarded as being more genteel but rigid in regard to their moral and social expectations but with the potential of leading purposeful lives in society while the lower class is characterized as uneducated criminals with little hope for meaningful lives. Even though these discrepancies were obvious within the social classes at the time, especially during the rise of industrialization in the nineteenth century, conflicts within the individual regarding the restrictions of social class were also prevalent during the Victorian Era. No author from this time period was more personally conflicted with the tension of social class restrictions than Oscar Wilde. Throughout Oscar Wilde’s short literary career, he experienced great fame and then social ostracism primarily because he was unwilling to live within the restrictions of Victorian society. It seems that this personal conflict for Oscar Wilde came to a head through the creation of one of his most well-known works, The Importance of Being Earnest which experienced great success before his fall from grace in society.
The way in which an author depicts a group of people is often the way that people throughout history judge the same group of people. Chinua Achebe has been heralded as the father of African literature due to the fact that he wrote from an African perspective, using the language of the colonizer. This is especially true due to his most well-known and most read novel, Things Fall Apart, which follows the downfall of Achebe’s tragic hero, Okonkwo. Throughout the novel, it would appear as if Nigerian men were abusive to their wives and dismissive of all femaleness. This is because Okonkwo demonstrates extreme masculinity through his disgust at his father, his rejection of his son, and his apparent abuse toward his wives. However, according to scholarship, this depiction is not accurate when applying Okonkwo’s example onto other males in Achebe’s fictional clan Umuofia. Instead, Achebe’s description of Okonkwo demonstrates an exaggeration of masculinity that was not shared by most men pre-colonization in Nigeria. Because of the effects of colonization, male and female agency in post/colonial nations has been skewed not just in society but also in the way that these roles are shown through literature.