Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John Holman

Second Advisor

Josh Russell

Third Advisor

Sheri Joseph


Theories of Damage follows the lives August, his mother Sylvia, and his wife Janie, as Sylvia is dying of lung cancer. Janie tells August she’s pregnant at the beginning of the novel, towards the end of Sylvia’s illness, and now August must reckon with losing his mother—with whom he shares an intensely close, dependent relationship after growing up with her as a single parent suffering from depression—and becoming a father, while also opening himself up to all the things he doesn’t know about his mother. Sylvia explores the secrets she’s kept and her journey with depression, while Janie questions motherhood in all its forms through examining her childhood and her relationships with her mother and Sylvia. They all seek to figure out what they have inherited, and what they will leave behind.

Available for download on Thursday, April 23, 2099