Title

Like Poetry: A Collection of Short Plays

Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Steve Feffer

Second Advisor

Dr. Arnold Johnston

Third Advisor

Dr. Jon Adams

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joan Herrington

Abstract

These plays are an attempt to strip away the clichés common to contemporary representations of gay men, in an attempt to see them as they really are: Full of contradictions, passion and self-doubt. In order to begin to understand what it means to be queer--whether the "subculture," the "lifestyle," or the "community"--I needed to analyze those loaded terms, and present my own take on each.

In 7-Letter Names , two self-infatuated young men who have a name for everything find they can't describe the one thing they really want. For the young urbanites of Fanny Packs and Hanky Codes, gay culture is a mortifying blur of signals, signs and come-ons--but it's not nearly as confusing as true heterosexual love. A first kiss shared over an ELO tune in Quiescent leads to growing pains both usual and less so: gender roles, role playing, and the high-stakes world of drag-queen bingo. Meanwhile, When Tomorrow Comes presents a flip side of the same scenario, as a callous lothario pursues his habits to the same tune every night. And in Like Poetry, memory, regret, and new-age remedies are all brought to bear on a frustrated young man struggling to make sense of his formative years--with the help of Walt Whitman and a talking bar of soap.

These characters--their anxieties and fears, their friends and lovers, their similarities and differences--are all put under a microscope in these short, darkly comic meditations on identity and sexuality. In each work I hope to explore a new layer of gay experience, striving to uncover the tension between the masculine and the feminine, the political and the personal, the poetic and the profane, the archetype and the stereotype.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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