Department Chair

Adrienne M. Costello, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Jennifer D. Ryan-Bryant, Ph.D.

Department Home page

Timothy J. Bryant, Ph.D.

First Reader

Jennifer D. Ryan-Bryant, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Timothy J. Bryant, Ph.D.


This thesis examines four variations on the literary case study, defined here as factual, embellished, fictionalized, and fictional, which vary in their level of historical detail. The factual case study presented, Robert Hayden’s long poem “Middle Passage,” utilizes found text to present the case of the Amistad rebellion to its readers. The fictionalized case study, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, is based on a case of infanticide, though the story has been altered to allow the inclusion of historical details which facilitate a broader look at the horrors of slavery. The embellished case study, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, provides an account of a murder and those involved through a blending of journalism and non-fiction writing. The fictional case study provides the most freedom to the author, as an invented crime can explore anything. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird uses the voice of a young girl to provide readers with a glimpse of the racist aspects of society in the Deep South. The purpose of my thesis is to show that the literary case study, in any form, contributes to history as well as the literary canon. In making this argument, I will discuss the ways in which the four different types of case study are potentially limited by their factual basis, how a case can inspire much more than the facts of a story, and how the literary case study operates when free from factual limitations.

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