On Edifice

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)




Jennifer Sinor


This thesis addresses the relationship between identity and structure within the American West. By imagining the text as a body, an edifice, or a thing constructed, much like a built structure, the essays contend with decay and disintegration. Similarly, as buildings change over time, so does identity. As for whether or not identity works in patterns of decay is inevitably unclear. But using memory and recollection to uncover different layers of identity mirrors the process of decay, if only on a superficial level.

By examining the similarities engendered in revealing for both identity and structure, these essays contend that every identity is a body constructed. These essays consider: Are identity and experience ever divorced? If not, how does one abandon the character of our fathers? Our mothers? Why are we not near mirror images of our parents’, friends’, and siblings’ motivations and inspirations? Or perhaps we are.

In childhood, personal expression appears to be a limited thing. As a child improves her vocabulary and her ability to express herself, her awareness of self becomes more complicated and thus, how she imagines herself in emotional and characteristic proximity to her peers changes. While the complications of forming an identity construct around experience, the body of edifice decays over time. Likewise, in these essays, when identity becomes more complicated, the structure of the essays disintegrates. In doing this, the hope is that the reader will have to strip the traditional approach to reading prose—relying on narrative, connecting with characters—and find for themselves the identity within each essay and the collection as a whole.

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025