Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Calvin Thomas

Second Advisor

Gina Caison

Third Advisor

Tanya Caldwell


This thesis examines how Howard Cruse’s comics engage with contemporary debates on relationality and queer theory in relation to contemporary politics of the U.S. South by drawing on the theories of Lee Edelman and Leo Bersani. In Chapter 1, I argue that Cruse’s lone novel Stuck Rubber Baby uses queer negativity to place queer persons within liminal spaces to disrupt traditional notions of identity in the U.S. South. In Chapter 2, I examine Cruse’s comic strips “Hell Isn’t All That Bad” and “Why Are We Losing The War On Art?” to argue that Cruse satirizes the politics of southern fundamentalism through antirationality to critique its influence over the U.S. South. By foregrounding the complexities of the depiction of U.S. Southern queerness, this thesis contends that the Cruse’s comics maintain a view of queerness in opposition to hegemonic visions of the U.S. South, successfully rejecting essentialized narratives of the region.


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