Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Jon Billman

Second Advisor

Monica McFawn

Abstract

The concept of a traditional family structure has been fading over the last 50 years and with this decline the notion of responsibilities being determined by gender is also losing ground, though it still has a long way to go. This short story collection works to continue to normalize the increasing variety of family structures, especially variety that has its roots in new notions of gender challenging old conventions. The stories are all set in Nebraska, an ideal landscape for exploring tradition versus modernity. Though there are major cities in NE, most of the state is composed of smaller rural communities with a heavy emphasis on agriculture and ranching. Land and livestock pass through multiple generations of the same family, usually from father to son, not mother to daughter. The effect is a sort of timelessness, an aging farmhouse with a son bearing striking resemblance to his father, maintaining a ranch dog and driving a Chevy because that is the way he was taught and expected to behave. But modern families do exist in the area, standing out even more in a place where everyone runs into each other at some point at the only grocery store in town. Half of this collection focuses on this landscape, while the other half delves into traditional families encountering the more liberal world of Lincoln and Omaha in the southeast corner of the state.