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Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Andrew F. Altschul

Subject Areas

Literature; Comparative literature; Demography


Still Life & Other Stories consists of five short stories that vary widely in perspective, structure, setting, and theme. Three stories are written in close third, whereas "Many Worlds" and "The Lover" are written in the first person. Protagonists are male and female, teen-aged and adult. They range in age from 14, as with Zane in "Many Worlds," to 38 year-old Earl of "Mint Condition." The title story features an innovative structure that combines past and future in sections that are demarcated by changes in address, each address representing a formative experience in the life of the protagonist. "Islands" and "Mint Condition" are inspired by the devastating effects of the post-industrial American landscape on the people of rural, working-class areas whose livelihoods have depended on now vanishing industries. These settings are stark and homogenous, and the protagonists of both stories are eventually led to question the assumptions about gender and culture inherent to their communities. In fact, one of the collection's major thematic concerns is the nature of identity and the ways in which it is a social construct. The collection also interrogates the ways in which individuals experience the passage of time. Both teenagers and adults have to grow up fast, to adapt their hopes to the changing times and to the limits of earthly possibility.