Date of Award
English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing
Adolescence, Coming of age, Fabulism, Feminism, Magical realism, Short stories
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Seam Ripping is a collection of eight coming-of-age stories, in which the bodies of the adolescent protagonists transform in both ordinary and extraordinary ways: a Master’s student must prepare for hibernation and get her paperwork in order after turning into a bear, a young woman becomes a mouse and must navigate the challenges of a workplace that claims to accommodate her, a teenage girl develops gills later than her classmates, a young woman loses her teeth when she creates art, a teenager transforms into a tree to escape a stalker. The young women in these stories cross the borders of human and Other by metamorphosizing into flora and fauna, growing inhuman appendages, and losing body parts. These fantastic bodily changes occur at a time in the young female characters’ lives marked by ordinary changes, and they must navigate puberty, friendships, newfound independence, first jobs, mental health struggles, questions of faith, and changing family dynamics in their newly transformed bodies. In Seam Ripping, metaphors become literal, internal conflict materializes externally, and the horrors of bodily transmogrification are eclipsed by the ordinary horrors of growing up female in a contemporary patriarchal society.
The accompanying critical essay, “Magic and Realism, But Not Magical Realism: Transforming the Adolescent Female Body,” proposes a new term to understand such fantastic bodily transformations as a concretization of metaphor: “body fabulism.” Body fabulism becomes a window through which to examine the feminist critique contained in the stories of Seam Ripping, as well as the stories of contemporary short story writers Carmen Maria Machado, Kim Fu, Julia Armfield, Brenda Peynado, and Samanta Schweblin.
Burrows-Moore, Chloe, "Seam ripping" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 9071.