Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Marcia Douglas

Abstract

you can’t make homes out of human beings someone should have already told you that

(Warsan Shire)


Or can you?

:the Retreat of an Animal is a collection of short stories revolving around, touching on, and recoiling from the body’s relationship to home. “Home” is the place of belonging, of safety and familiarity. It is “the retreat of an animal.” This collection is interested in exploring how the fear and hope laden term “home” intersects with the corporeality of the human body. In what ways our physical relationships and experiences with those around us transform our sense of belonging; how does our sense of home render us static or mobile? I chose the collection’s title from among the many definitions of “home” for its multiple readings; is home a place to escape to in this sense, or is belonging the root of fear, the cause for retreating, as in a battle? How does the so- called animal nature of the body—the sensual, sexual, reproductive capacity—relate to our feelings of belonging? How do bodies and places become or relate to home?

This collection has sprung out of personal and literary experiences over the years—with separated parents, moving, traveling overseas, reading the likes of Isabel Allende, Roxane Gay, and Tessa Mella. Small moments and long trials all necessarily feed into one’s writing, and these influences affect much of this collection’s content and style. I draw frequently from stories of fantastika, playing with elements of fantasy and horror wrapped in delicate prose. This collection I hope acts as a substantial starting point for playing with the aforementioned themes and merging literary styles (and genres), from which to reach further and further from everyday events to, perhaps more clearly, explore true moments of human experience.

These are stories of wanting to be together.

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