Date of Award

2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Advisor

David Kress

Second Committee Member

Alexander Irvine

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Moxley

Abstract

Using "voice" as the main modality of narratological exploration, this thesis explores the sometimes dark, sometimes ridiculous, and sometimes forgotten-familiar of America, family, and motherhood by cobbling together the life of the title character, Zembla Vist, by means of a matrix of lenses, myths, and nostaligias used to (re)constitute her reality and genealogy. The organizing principle of the novella comes in the form of the vaudeville show; in Part One of the novella, the reader is introduced to the "talent" (the characters) that the rest of the work will follow, as well as a bit of their backstory. In Part Two of the novella, the reader is guided through a story/ stretch of time in the life of Zembla Vist in the form of the nine acts of a vaudeville show, or, the "bill"; the events of her life are translated into a "dumb act," a ventriloquism act, a playlet, and six other classic vaudeville staples. In reimagining her life through a vaudevillian filter, Zembla both invites and defers a "true" working thesis for her own life, and finds that a radical reimagining and reconstitution of one's own story only liberates one so far, and perhaps comes with its own delimiting baggage.

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