Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Beth Gylys

Second Advisor

Dr. David Bottoms

Third Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman


This dissertation is a collection of poetry that takes as its subject matter both rural America, predominantly the environs of southern Appalachia and Mississippi, and the theme of familial dissolution. In doing so, this dissertation frames familial dissolutions, my own and ones of myth and history, in terms of the idea of a fragmented and dissolving sense of “southern-ness.” Overall, Earth of Inedible Things attempts to piece together what cannot be consumed, neatly or at all: the complicated Southern identity in the 21st century. Through a mix of lyric and narrative poems, this dissertation will focus on the inexorable link between the “failed” and/or “dissolving” family and the Southern/rural landscape, arguing that in order to understand one, one must understand the other. In conjunction with Romantic and Southern poetics in general, Camus’ idea of “the absurd” helps undergird this work’s scholarly and creative ambitions.

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