Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Brian Deyo

Second Advisor

Kurt Bullock

Third Advisor

Sherry Johnson

Academic Year



This thesis will dissect the flaws within the current Western culture narrative and how specific works of literature have the ability to challenge and subvert this outdated narrative, teaching society to embrace and empathize with both marginalized and oppressed human and non-human communities. It will address how the decentered voices within the literature I have selected create liminal experiences for readers, blurring subjectivity and eradicating the cultural boundaries and binary oppositions that have kept us trapped and blinded for decades. My first chapter will explore the psychological functions of the current cultural narrative, specifically Baudrillard’s concept of the hyperreal as a consequence of modernity. I will then utilize Hutcheon’s understanding of the power of the decentered perspective, one I will argue is able to shatter the hyperreal fog humanity has fallen prey to. My next two chapters will address specific texts that possess the decentered perspective and the abilities to rework the current cultural narrative and redefine human existence. My second chapter will turn to the past, specifically the Victorian literary catalog, where I will analyze both Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, both novels that center on the voices of oppressed and seemingly powerless women with liminal identities. My third chapter will then shift back to the modern age to look at Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” and Jamie’s “Aurora,” both creative non-fiction essays from authors who guide their readers through mysterious and unexplainable encounters with the natural world and establish a liminal reading experience, one which minimizes the human perspective and amplifies that of the non-human. I will conclude this thesis with a discussion of how society should attempt to go about this cultural shift and who should be entrusted with the responsibility to initiate and spread awareness of a liminal existence.