Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Margaret Dean

Committee Members

William Hardwig, Michael Knight, Christina Ergas


The Ballad of Wedge Salad explores the concepts of acceptance, forgiveness, and belonging by following the lives of a Sikeston, Missouri neighborhood over the course of five days in 1997. On the day of main character Wedge Salad’s birth, his father was run over and killed in the hospital parking lot by Jeff Timberwaller, one of Wedge family’s neighbors. However, Wedge doesn’t discover who killed his father until a series of chance events unfolds twelve years later. The rest of the neighborhood, including Wedge, his mother, Marie, Jeff, Virginia Otter, and Amy Marquette, must deal with the web-like fallout from Wedge’s discovery. These characters must choose how they can continue to live, grow, and move despite how dark their lives can seem. The critical introduction to this novel explores the intersection of mindfulness practices and writing. Like the characters in the novel, many writers face difficulties finding the motivation to write against a marketplace and a political and social backdrop that can seem almost hopeless. This critical introduction posits that writing can be enhanced by mindfulness practice and can be its own form of mindfulness practice, a practice that allows the writer to focus on the moment of composition, outside of both future fears and past rejection.

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2028

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