Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Thesis

Program or Major

English

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

First Advisor

Thomas Payne

Second Advisor

James Krasner

Third Advisor

Clark Knowles

Abstract

The Many Masks of Me is an exploration of the facets of my own identity. In the tradition of Ancient Greek theater, actors playing multiple roles would, in switching from one to the other, signal this shift to the audience through the switching of a characterizing mask. This notion of a single person animating multiple identities runs through The Many Masks of Me. Each narrative, whether a short story, flash fiction, or novel, at its essential core, is simply an explication of some facet of my own sense of self.This thesis is organized into four sections, each indicative of a different fictional style I have learned and developed during my time in the MFA program: fictionalized autobiography, fantasy genre, realist, and a novel excerpt. The first three sections are formatted the same, with two short stories and a flash fiction. The “War Stories” narratives are fictionalized accounts of real events I experienced during the Iraq War and reflect my continuing effort to articulate an especially traumatic part of my life. The “Genre Fiction” section explores my passion for mythography and the myths of the Ancient Mediterranean. “Realist Fiction” is just that, an expression of the real-world, without the aggrandizement of situations and characters that are beyond the experience of the average reader. The novel excerpt comes from Fallen Love, a project I first began when in therapy for combat-related post-traumatic stress. The story is an explication of the painful first steps in both therapy and plot-development: the acknowledgement of a problem. My hope with this work is to offer not only a sampling of my own psychology, but also one of my storytelling skills. The Many Masks of Me is not only an offering of my narratological scope, but also the foundation for several larger works that continue my own self-reflection.

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