Thesis Title

A Dragon Rises Up from a Small Stream

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Emphasis in Creative Writing or Applied Music

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Program Name


Program Director

Judy Halebsky, PhD

First Reader

Thomas Burke, MFA

Second Reader

Perry Guevara, PhD


The potential to shift beliefs and perceptions about death and dying and upend tropes portends a metamorphosis in how death is experienced, individually and collectively, across global societies. Literary influences possess tremendous power and vast opportunity to imprint and shift sociocultural views on death across cultures. This project is a call to action for more voices to harness this potential through artful expression and storytelling. Specifically, a critical essay precedes a creative work, which is a story in the genre of historical fiction set in two seemingly disparate locals: South Korea and Kentucky. The commonalities of the human condition, regardless of place of origin, are outlined in the critical essay and further expressed in a wide-reaching human story, conveyed by a third-party omniscient narrator. The challenge to stretch narrative conventions and reimagine the act of dying is bolstered by use of an ecospiritual framework to challenge dualisms, such as male-female identities and human-nature boundaries. This work brings disparate, diverse characters to life in a globally-relevant, cross-cultural narrative that illuminates the common humanity and cracks the monolithic representations of “othered” peoples. The characters are from segments of their respective societies that have been ignored, stereotyped, and oppressed. In recognition of the merits of imaginative depictions of death in literature and film, the creative work aspires to elicit fresh perspectives and engender change in this realm.

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