Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing

First Advisor

Nicole Markotic


Creative Writing, Family, Farming, Kunstlerroman, Liminality, Short Stories




“Exposed Roots” is a collection of seven interconnected short stories following a farming family, told through the perspective of middle daughter Anna. The stories reflect the shifting uncertainties of their narrator, weaving the past and present together and, on occasion, blurring the lines of reality. Characters include a grandfather single-mindedly dedicated to his farm, an aunt whose resentment drives her from her family, a father who simultaneously wants his children to have their own lives but also stay within the family business, and a mother and grandmother who have come to this family farm as “outsiders.” The farm is not an idealistic, pastoral location; it is a place of hardship and uncertainty, where nature works for, or against, success as much as the people do. The farm represents either a solace or a cage for each family member, and at times both for Anna. My essay, “Stunting Growth: The Narrator’s Liminality in ‘Exposed Roots’” explores Anna’s position through the lens of liminality, as she is caught between family members, between her responsibilities and desires, and between childhood and adulthood. Anna’s role is as both narrator and protagonist who exists inside the family conflicts, yet fears failing her family’s expectations. As the central figure between the reader and the story, she is the means through which the reader accesses the characters surrounding Anna, and the world they all occupy. Anna, thus, must come to terms with her familial and independent positions, and learn how to take control and act for herself.