Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Jill S. McDonough

Second Advisor

Lloyd Schwartz

Third Advisor

Patrick Barron


The following poems are part of a collection exploring the line between human and machine. Poems about automatons, or self-operating machines, work as timed interruptions between a series of narrative poems exploring concepts such as identity formation, mortality, marriage, and self-reliance. The word "automaton," Greek in origin, means "acting of one's own will," however the machines, whether drawing, writing, or playing flute are, in fact, simply carrying out the will of their creators. A similar irony exists in the persona poems examining female identity, such as "Escape Acts" and "Cyclops' Wife," where women seem to be trapped in the machinery of their roles; or in the poem "Choice in the House of Chance," where a man is programmed by circumstance. But, as the collection moves forward with poems like "Your Hands Hover at the Edge of the World" and "Chiaroscuro," it becomes clear that the intent is not to destabilize the boundaries of humanity, but rather to embrace the materiality of the body, and to recognize the human spirit, not as something passive or culturally pre-determined, but as an active force, constantly engaged in its own creating.


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