Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A.

Second Advisor

Robert Hursey, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Stinson, M.F.A.


In the science fiction classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Roy Neary sacrifices everything, his job, his friends, his family, to pursue an answer that he believes will provide him with a new and better life. With nothing but hazy visions of alien spaceships, and a five note tune lingering in his memory, Roy is nevertheless willing to step outside of his emotional security and risk everything. Science fiction cinema is full of these characters, from Roy in Close Encounters, Truman in The Truman Show (1998), to Evan in The Butterfly Effect (2004), these are people not content with the drudgery of their everyday lives, but driven to find something more. This 'more' comes in many forms, from a government hidden secret, to a key moment in the past that unlocks a better future. This 'more' pushes the boundaries of believability, and can sometimes alter both time and space. However, though this 'more' might take a variety of forms, its goal is always the same: to provide a character with a new and better life. My characters are similarly driven by this need, whether it is Jintsy in "The Final Horror of Count Ferdu," who sneaks out in the hope of finding something more than cheap costumes and props in Count Ferdu's dilapidated mansion, or Arty in "Sundown," willing to follow a letter from his dead wife, and abandon years of healing, for one night with his loved one. These characters follow their own hero's journey. More often than not, however, they are not traditionally heroic. In "The Invisible Universe," though Neddy's need to reconcile with his estranged daughter is admirable, we are reminded that it was his need to find something more, and his resulting negligence, that drove them apart in the first place: 'Mom says that when I was born, 1 you kept calling me it 1 • 1 In "The Date," Eugene's systematic lies end up trapping him, blissfully hopeful, in a hopeless apocalyptic wasteland. Heroic or not, collected in this thesis are people who question their everyday existence, and are willing to step outside their own emotional safety to find the answers, at whatever the cost.



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