Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Paul Bruss, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Charles Cunningham, PhD

Committee Member

Christine Neufeld, PhD


I begin this study with the formalistic essays of Michael Oakeshott and Susan Sontag, observing the precarious position of aesthetics in contemporary literary discourse. Rather than fit the novels Under the Volcano and the Alexandria Quartet into normative Kantian or New Critical frameworks, I follow the course of alchemical allusions in Lowry’s novel and relate them to the troubled theme of modern love in Durrell’s, writing in an experiential, plot-driven manner towards a narrative describing the effects of these texts upon my fiction. After I discuss the traces of Sade in Durrell, the metafictional novelette “Dolor” concludes the project, betraying numerous critical themes: the decentered subject, anxieties of authorship, and writing the body as text. My aim is to suggest that if literature is not beholden to logical truth, criticism might follow a more literary course by exposing itself to the elements of fiction—whose assimilative revenge upon theory seems long overdue.