Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Allen Wier

Committee Members

Michael Knight, Margaret Dean, Christine Holmlund


This creative dissertation is a novel titled Into the Attic. The novel tells the story of Sullivan Young, a junior at a small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania in the mid-2000s, and James Shelley, a young literature professor at the college, with whom Sullivan initiates an affair. The narrative switches between the points of view of these two men, neither of whom is happy with the person he is becoming, and develops around the fears each has about the relationship.

The novel is concerned with character, sexuality, and power; in order to explore these issues fully within Sullivan and Shelley’s relationship, the novel alternates between the two characters’ points of view, thus attempting to illustrate the way the negotiation of power in the relationship also alternates between them as the relationship develops. The novel relies heavily on Sullivan’s and Shelley’s experiences as gay men and uses explicit sex scenes to develop character; therefore, my critical introduction examines the implications of writing a political or social “other” and references writers and critics—such as Dorothy Allison, Wayne Booth, Tillie Olsen, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Calvin Thomas—who have informed my understanding of writing “the other.”

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