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Publication Date

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Nick Taylor


creative writing

Subject Areas



This short story collection aims to challenge the established concepts of womanhood and femininity by sharing the stories of female protagonists who are complicated and even unlikable at times. All of these women undergo an identity crisis that is imposed by things out of their control. By exploring topics like assimilation, racism, suicide, immigrant parents, mental illness, and childhood trauma these stories explore both the subtle and conspicuous manner in which people grow and change.

The collection focuses on people who are left behind and who look back on the things they have lost like youth, love, family, passion, and opportunity. All of the female protagonists are held back by their past lives and their past selves. Thus, their identities are complicated and in flux throughout their respective narratives. Moreover, the short stories move through time in a manner that parallels the narrator’s emotional growth or stasis. As a short story collection, “The Progress of Heartbreak” illustrates the fragility and complex nature of individual identity, and the devastating impact that external and internal factors can place upon it.