Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
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?
Shapiro, Kate Marjorie, "Breaking Free from the Snake Strangling America" (2019). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3675.
Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026