Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Elaine Ford

Second Committee Member

Welch Everman

Third Committee Member

Naomi Jacobs


Counterculture is a creative thesis written to earn the degree of Master of Arts at the University of Maine in spring of 2001. The short novel tells the story of Cannister Barnes, a young man who goes to England in the late summer for study and briefly catches a glimpse of a young woman while he’s lost in the winding streets and paths of Eton. His trip is also marred by a dreadful experience in the London Underground, in which he sees an indigent man in a wheelchair roll himself into the path of an oncoming train. Before returning to the States, however, Cannister finds that the man has left behind a little red book, and Cannister claims it as his own. He carries the memory of this trauma, the image of the young woman, and the red book all back with him to America. Back at home, Cannister finds himself being forced to confront problems in his life he’d rather do without-namely, the relationship with his partner, Amelia, seems to be f&g apart. Things are made worse by the fact that instead of taking action to either help or hinder these problems, Cannister would rather read the red book he absconded with back at the Underground. It appears to be a fictional account of shady scientific experiments, strange goings on, and other odd events. Cannister is drawn again and again to the book’s narrative. His life at the University, as well, begins to falter; absorption in the book‘s story Ieads to a few missed classes, to procrastination and un- graded papers. A close friend he made in England comes to visit him and expresses interest in the red book and its meaning. Upon the friend’s departure, Cannister, continuing to read onward, discovers that the book details his own young life, and he finally decides to travel back to England in search of his own history, and in fact, his own humanity. Counterculture explores a number of themes, many of them related to the reality of identity, and what shapes it. Cannister Barnes represents a peculiar icon of a mad society that has lost any sort of hold on what it means to be what we are. His personal search is representative in its commonality, but antithetical in the unique character of Cannister’s past.