Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

English Language and Literature

First Advisor

Abby Coykendall

Second Advisor

Elisabeth Daumer


Patterns aid in deepening humanity's understanding of the world and what is cultivated within it. Patterns emerge in interactive disciplines such as language, literature, science, visual arts, and even mathematics. The existence of patterns assists the human need to understand a complicated world. Beyond simply seeing patterns as they are presented, I am interested in exploring how these patterns manifest into paradigmatic structures that affect the way in which society. Particularly, I am interested in the socialized perceptions of literature, and the role that systems plays in their interaction and development.

This thesis project: 1) introduces the fundamentals of systems theory; 2) explores systems theory as it pertains directly to literary studies; 3) specifies properties of systems theory within literary parameters; 3) and identify how literature operates as an active network of systemic information. This project, in essence, takes sociological aspects of systems theory and demonstrates how those aspects apply to literature as both an art form and as a conduit of active cultural interaction. I hypothesize that literary patterns emerge through such variables as interaction, censorship, circulation, or preservation. A few tertiary influences of literary paradigms are also explored, including the industrialization of publication, civil rights advocacy, and public accessibility to literature.

The fundamental objective is to uncover how societal influences impede or cater to literary formulae by evaluating observations made by systems theorists and applying their methodologies to a literary discussion. My findings show that incongruities within systems of literature are not anomalies disproving the possibility of universalism; rather, they are incongruities that represent fledglings of newly discovered systems which may someday manifest into global schemas after extensive interaction has induced collective familiarity.