Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This collection of essays interweaves the author's personal experience and family history to explore the spectacle of poverty, classism and difference. In "Mufflering," the processing of scrap metals for money becomes a lens for examining the relationship between the narrator, her stepfather and the "lower class" labors that bind them together and keep them separated. "Grandpa's Porch" analyzes the concurrent feelings of alienation and familial bond that the narrator feels with her grandfather. "Beauty Queen Killer" studies the spectacle of intense feeling and unhealthy obsession that develops when the narrator, relegated to the lower classes of her middle school social hierarchy, attempts to locate a serial killer that briefly passes through her hometown. The spectacle of physical difference and the socioeconomic implications of freakery as observed in the medical "oddities" preserved in a medical museum are the themes of the fourth essay in this collection. This essay, "Mutter," catalogues the exhibits at this museum in detail and explores the implications for the narrator of her fascination with these spectacle-based displays of difference. The final essay, "Everything to Fear'' focuses on the narrator's observations regarding her sister's food phobias.
Smith, Pauline S., "From Mufflers to the Mütter: Essays on Everyday Spectacle" (2012). English Master’s Theses. 114.