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Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Closed Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Theatre

First Advisor

Julie Hensley

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Second Advisor

Young Smith

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Third Advisor

Nancy Jensen

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre


This linked story collection explores (and raises questions about) themes such as the futility of the American Dream, the complexities of faith and despair, and the off-kilter moral balance, within ordinary people. The exploration of these themes and the narrative arc, within and between the linked stories, is propelled by a character-driven approach to the craft of fiction. As Frank Russet, the protagonist of the collection, strives towards creating a fulfilling life, he struggles to find a balance between a measure of success and satisfaction (as he understands it), a measure of faith (either worldly or otherworldly), and a measure of moral goodness. This narrative explores, through the character of Frank Russet, the complexities of morality, success, and belief within the twentieth century American individual’s experience.

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