Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Joy Harjo

Committee Members

Ben Lee, Marilyn Kallet, Maria Stehle


The desire to be touched, to come home, to take every touch back, to reveal oneself for what one is—this is the progression of the speaker’s desire over the course of “Praying Naked.” Touch is the speaker’s rebellion, her route to sexual autonomy. The speaker comes home when her rebellion fails. Shame that she prioritized her own selfish want over the needs of other women, other daughters and their mothers, makes the speaker wish she could take every touch back. If only she remembered sooner that her dying mother is a woman, too, a body of knowledge eager to teach the speaker about lust. “Praying Naked” began as theater, a speaker in a mask who performed her artifice as truth—this play, for a while, was enough. At the end of “Praying Naked,” the speaker stands before her audience, maskless. She wants her audience to take what she made for what it is, constructed, mimetic. An exaggerated, extravagant, and blunt representation of a psyche with all of its shifting parts.

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