Title

A Habit of Seeing: Stories

Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Jaimy Gordon

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Katrovas

Third Advisor

Dr. Jil Larson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Peter Blickle

Abstract

A Habit of Seeing is a collection of eleven short stories, many of which have visual media as a central theme or inspiration. “Woman in Blue, 1919,” for example, is told through the point of view of a life-size doll the painter Oskar Kokoschka commissioned from avant-garde dollmaker Hermine Moos and paraded about Vienna in 1919. In “Felina,” an investment manager falls for a quirky installation artist, and in doing so, confronts the parallels between art and commerce. Most of the stories in the collection deal with the possibilities and the dangers inherent in imagination. Because of this, several of the stories contain moments that are not strictly realist. In “Notes to a Shadowy Man,” Vera, a young au pair who takes care of an infant in Minneapolis, is so absorbed in her film noir version of the world that she doesn't see the real dangers around her. She is not unlike Julia in “A Habit of Seeing,” a young mother and former actress unable to integrate two separate selves she knows only through performance. Other stories are of the fabulist tradition. “Shoreward” tells the story of a marriage in the aftermath of a husband mysteriously losing his body to live his remaining days with only a head, while “Castelo dos Mouros” tells of husband and wife innkeepers, Benito and Agueda, as they invent stories about an American girl staying at their inn in Sintra, and thereby reinvent her past and their futures.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Abstract Only

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