Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Second Ribcage: Fiction and an Article on New Wave Fabulism, Trauma, and the Environment
by Capettini, Emily, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2014, 225; 3622928
Abstract (Summary)

New wave fabulism or new fabulism is a contemporary genre of writing, which has recently begun to gain ground in the past ten years. As Leslie What describes in the introduction to Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism, "[fabulism] is rooted in folk tale, religious belief, magic, surrealism, and superstition. Fabulist writing blends literary tropes with fantastic conceits, and in the process frees fiction from the limitations of realism" (What 7). The critical introduction of this project argues how a selection of contemporary literature, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Irlanda by Espido Freire, and selected stories from In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss, Horse, Flower, Bird by Kate Bernheimer, and The View from the Seventh Layer by Kevin Brockmeier, use new wave fabulism to enrich the story through motifs such as memory, place, and trauma, in a way pure realism cannot. The use of new wave fabulism transfers the focus of the stories to the realities of the human experience.

The creative part of this project is a novella, Prairie, and five short stories: "Thistle," "The Lincoln Elephants," "Figure-8," "To and Fro," and "Sappho's Diner." All the works of fiction blend the environment, landscape, and identity with supernatural motifs like ghosts, dreamworlds, undead authors, and alternative history in order to investigate new ways of storytelling with new wave fabulism. Prairie investigates how memory and trauma can be woven in with rural and urban landscapes and ghost story motifs through the experience of the protagonist, Sandrine. In a similar way, "Thistle" and "Sappho's Diner" investigate the effects of old memories and trauma resurfacing years later. "The Lincoln Elephants" takes a slightly different approach, looking into how one lives, or attempts to live, harmoniously with trauma and tragedy and how one decision can change history. "To and Fro" focuses on anxiety and isolation. All stories borrow motifs from the novels and short stories discussed in the critical introduction as a way to engage with and use new wave fabulism to retell familiar narratives about trauma, tragedy, anxiety, isolation, the environment, and identity with new motifs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reed, Marthe, Smith, Daniel T.
Commitee: Andriano, Joseph, Honegger, Mark
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American literature
Keywords: Contemporary literature, Creative writing, Environmental literature, Fiction, New wave fabulism, Short fiction
Publication Number: 3622928
ISBN: 978-1-303-95076-6
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