Date of Award:

5-2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Lynne MchNeill

Abstract

Transformation events can be a change in a person's work, a change in philosophy, a sudden insight, or a break in a relationship. According to David Hufford and Marilyn Motz, narrating these experiences are ways in which people perform, construct, and communicate belief systems. The narrators within the context of this thesis experience their transformation through a career transformation. The narrators rediscover their initial passion and transform that desire into actions that results in a shift of career. Sometimes seen as inexplicable, nevertheless the narrators provide analysis and reflection on the influences that led to their change. Some of the actions or thoughts that the narrators incorporate in their stories demonstrate not only the progression of events but also the alterations narrators experience in their worldviews. The context in which these changes occur is essential to interpreting and understanding the experience. Narrative components are filtered through an interpretive process that includes personal meaning, contrast with social norms and cultural beliefs and the impact on the receiver to enable narrators to justify their experience. It is the reflection on these experiences through which people gain insight and establish relevance to events that seem sometimes beyond their control. Stories from pop culture to ordinary citizens who change their lives daily demonstrate the pervasiveness of the transformational effect of states of crisis through which people journey. People's lives are turned upside-down through these experiences which place the narrator out of their normal element. There are two levels to these story types: external and internal transformation. At a superficial level there is the journey to change careers but at another level there is a relationship to opening up cultural expectations or acting generatively, as role-models. Narrators are effecting change through their positive attitudes and acceptance of the trials they encounter during their transitions. Narrators discuss specific actions that create transformative life changes or philosophical shifts. My investigation studies how individuals are involved in transitional events in which they experience a disengagement from a previous life, spending some time in liminal space where they transition or regenerate into a new place in society. Part of my approach to this subject matter used theories introduced by Victor Turner (pilgrimages) and by Arnold Van Gennep (rites of passage). Regina Holloman proposes that rites of passage can occur not just as physical/material transformation but can occur psychically as well. Some of the narrative patterns that narrators use to construct these tales are identified within the context of folk belief and folklore scholarship.

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