Thesis

Beauty is in the I of the beholder

Each of these short stories is told in first-person narrative perspective and explores the arbitrary and relational nature of language and how language functions in narratives. Although each piece aims to establish a distinct voice from the other stories, the collection as a whole is largely influenced by Saussure's theories of the linguistic sign and Derrida's discussions of differance and supplementarity. In the same way that Saussure dispels the notion that signifiers, such as sound images or words, bear a one-to-one correspondence to a signified concept, essentially a finite meaning, these stories aim to further demonstrate the arbitrary nature of language by showing that the letter "I" from each of the first-person narrators serve as a vehicle for a different voice and a distinct signified identity. This exploration of the various identities of I enables the stories to also contend with the theme of meta-narrative which enables an underlying discussion of personal life lessons which are not necessarily confined to the writing discipline. And as Derrida defines his term of differance as the postponement of a finite meaning, these stories explore writing as a process to engage in the struggle to achieve meaning and the play of differences between the signified and signifier. These stories also experiment and employ, at times, Derrida's supplementarity, the process of substituting and replacing one term or concept for another which adds a supplement to the original signified meaning, thus changing the original meaning and resisting a definitive meaning. This compilation of stories also strives to demonstrate a writing process that proceeds from language and rejects the traditional plot-driven narrative. In turn, each of the stories experiments with language, in terms of defamiliarization and irony to varying degrees. While these stories seemingly narrate a handful of personal experiences where life proves disappointing but also offer underlying commentary on the writing process and the theories that CSUN teaches, they ultimately hope to empower the marginalized voices and writers by encouraging them to explore more adventurously with language, to develop a strong, distinct, and self-reflective voice, and to discover the personal value of writing for each narrator.

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