Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Julie Carr

Second Advisor

Ruth E. Kocher

Third Advisor

Kirk Ambrose


The contemporary self is repeatedly divided and subdivided with new and newer kinds of mediation in a so-called Age of Information. And yet, because a predictable, singular self is fundamental to economic and cultural systems, the human consciousness is at odds with itself, desperately trying to reconcile two oppositional forces: one insisting on a diffuse, liquid persona; the other on a hierarchical soul that looks suspiciously like it's straight out of the Enlightenment. STEVEN KEATON explores the boundaries of that troubled self, the construction of those tenuous boundaries, and the many ways in which identity is regularly ruptured and destabilized. Through a persistent interrogation of proper names, these poems, essays, stories, and fragments deploy a lexicon of words that allegedly refer to the kinds of objects that we expect to be familiar and domestic. But because the very medium in which we "call-up" those objects is subject to changing systems of meaning, which themselves are subject to the many voices and consciousnesses in attendance, the previously mundane objects unexpectedly deform their appearances and identities. The medium and the message are conflated, revealing how genders warp, sounds become houses, water is suddenly meat-like, and our names aren't our names anymore. STEVEN KEATON utters a world where our selfhood, and everything we sense and know to be cut up into its most essential material --whatever that is-- and then formed into something that merely echoes the shape of the soul.