The Complex

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Thisbe Nissen

Second Advisor

Dr. Katherine Joslin

Third Advisor

Dr. Allen Webb

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Daniel A. Hoyt


Fiction, short stories


The Complex is a work of fiction, a short story cycle set at a large suburban-style apartment complex, The Windows at Tomorrow Gulch, in the fictional town of South Bluffs, Ohio. The eleven stories consider the relationship between community and association, the idea that while characters orbit one another proximally, they often struggle to relate ideologically or even intentionally. The stories also grapple with sexuality, examining the expectations and failures of gender and intimacy, and explore issues of ecology. They culminate in the novella-length story, “What People Do Together,” which imagines a Lake Erie algae bloom that leaves the complex without drinking water for several days. Characters include: an older woman haunted by a catalog of ex-lovers; a leasing agent, Sara Lee, who begins an unlikely relationship with a tenant named Sam Adams; a sex-and-alcohol spokesperson who worries asexuality disqualifies him from his job; a waitress at a lakeside lodge whose passing interactions with guests mirror the toxicity of a lake turning green with algae; and an auditor and closet nudist whose position and lifestyle lead him into confrontation with the complex’s maintenance man.

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