Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Louis Ruprecht


A criminal is thrown from a high cliff into the sea. He has been

covered in feathers, live birds attached to him to slow his fall.

Fishermen wait below, hopeful of being able to carry him safely away.

The people are punishing the criminal with death, yet simultaneously

rooting for his survival. This startling image from Strabo, with its

delicious ironic tension, is the center‐piece of “Civic Poetics.” The thesis

consists of a cycle of poems imagining life in a city where this bizarre

ritual is performed, coupled with a number of essays written for several

Religious Studies courses on related themes. The interplay of

poetry and essay aims to illuminate the experience of my own journey

from criminal outsider to re‐integrated citizen. The lenses of (1) my own

experiences in 21st century Atlanta and (2) poetic imaginative

reconstruction of this ancient ritual reveal a startling picture: a

criminal’s relations with the divine, as mediated by his state, and a

state’s relations with the divine as mediated by its criminals.