Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Committee Chairperson

Maureen McVeigh-Trainor, MFA

Committee Member

Luanne Smith, MFA

Committee Member

Kristine Ervin, Ph.D


Swansong is a fable about the relationship between a writer and his work. An unnamed writer, suffering from severe depression, locks himself in his musty apartment to write one last attempt at a story before he carries out his planned suicide. This morose introduction is quickly followed by our own immersion in the writer’s idealistic fantasy about a hero named Lance and his quest to reclaim the voice of his beloved Simone, which was taken from her as a child after she mistakenly kills an enchanted swan. As the tale progresses, the writer begins to gain inspiration from Lance, Simone, and their allies; yet the written journey itself starts to take a chaotic turn, as the writer’s own darkness projects itself onto this parallel world.

The primary theme is the duality between the two narratives: that of the writer, and that of the character. Though Lance’s story is initially presented as the immersive, fictional work of the narrator, it begins to take on its own identity; although the story-within-a-story stands on its own at first, the consequences Lance experiences are directly connected to the narrator’s state of mind, and soon, the narrator must simply bear witness to this mirror-image world he has helped manifest. Essentially, the combined narrative is my own take on what Jean-Francois Lyotard defines in his theory of the “metanarrative”, as discussed in his book The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1984), which asserts that in a postmodern mindset, no one narrative can truly overarch another.