Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Askold Melnyczuk

Second Advisor

Fanny Howe

Third Advisor

Whitney Scharer


Set in a fictional American city between 2009 and 2011, THE BANJOIST OF STUMPVILLE tells the story of Gim, a fresh-out-of college PR consultant aiming to climb the corporate ranks. When a song he writes accidentally becomes an anthem for the anti-war movement, Gim is forced to choose between his 401(k) and his banjo.

In his day job, Gimmick Bitmoore tracks social media to evaluate public opinion on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the overwhelming ambivalence of the general public, Gim becomes bored and struggles to stand out at his company. He finds himself in the center of controversy after an improvised song he performs during a neighborhood festival goes viral, galvanizing the efforts of the formerly impotent anti-war movement and jeopardizing Gim's career ambitions. As his song becomes more popular Gim finds himself in the position of an accidental activist, pulled between his career and his music. When the anti-war movement turns violent, Gim has to choose between furthering his career and continuing with an increasingly dangerous hobby.

THE BANJOIST OF STUMPVILLE is equal parts satire and an exploration of corporate influence and unpredictable social trends. Told in short chapters, the novel is similar in structure to Ron Currie Jr.'s FLIMSY LITTLE PLASTIC MIRACLES and Justin Torres' WE THE ANIMALS. The subject matter will appeal to readers of BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain, which similarly addresses serious concerns about America's wars through a lens of pop-culture. This thesis contains Part One and Part Two of the three-part novel.


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