Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Danielle Deulen

Second Advisor

Dr. Beth Gylys

Third Advisor

Dr. Randy Malamud


lovehanger, a creative dissertation of poetry, addresses issues of identity, self-concept, and psychological health throughout the years of a child growing into a young woman. The collection in its five sections offers an intimate personal account of the speaker’s development from childhood to adulthood, focusing on the attempt to understand how meaning and value of the self are constructed. These poems hope to articulate a sense of conscious and unconscious anxiety stemming from an unclear and unstable sense of self, which begins in childhood and deepens as the speaker participates in social institutions that assume traditional, hierarchical, and preconceived modes of being, perceiving, and thinking. For this speaker, social institutions such as education, dating, career-planning, and even health cast the shadows of her psyche into stark relief. When she finds herself falling astray of society’s worn paths, her ambivalence pushes her to unhealthy extremes and reveals unhealed psychological and emotional wounds. A lack of self-understanding and self-regard drive her psyche into further fragmentation, although even within this bleakness she rejects the idea that life is inherently worthless. These poems, spanning several decades in the speaker’s life, posit various hypotheses for how a self might develop, interact with others, and integrate with society, but in the end offer little certainty, ultimately accepting this failure to achieve stability and wholeness as a powerful new ethos for existing in the world.


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Available for download on Saturday, April 18, 2099