Award Date

5-1-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Maile Chapman

Second Committee Member

Douglas Unger

Third Committee Member

Donald Revell

Fourth Committee Member

Elspeth Whitney

Number of Pages

205

Abstract

Breaking Free from the Snake Strangling America is a novel about the narratives of violence. It tells the story of Audrey Bishop and her investigation into her brother’s death at a mass shooting.

In the months following the shooting Audrey is confronted with various explanations of violence from her estranged parents, journalists, and televised sensationalism. She is at a loss for how to settle her own grief when the truth is stretched in every direction.

When Audrey is mysteriously sent Matthew’s journals, she is confronted with a new narrative, she sets off on a journey to find out the real story of what happened to her brother.

Breaking Free from the Snake Strangling America is also about power structures. Audrey passes through several landscapes that are compromised by the corporate power structures that oppress working class Americans. She grew up in Northwest Arkansas where the chicken industry has strangled the local farming industry and passes through Texas where the oil industry is destroying the Chihuahuan Desert.

As she moves through the book she moves through various individuals inflicting violence on various communities and landscapes. A fundamental question that the novel asks is: is any violence justified?

Disciplines

Creative Writing

Language

English

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026


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