Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Gery, John

Second Advisor

Easterlin, Dr. Nancy

Third Advisor

Doll, Dr. Daniel


Kazimierz Dabrowski’s psychological theory of positive disintegration is a lesser known theory of personality development that offers an alternative critical perspective of literature. It provides a framework for the characterization of postmodern protagonists who move beyond heroic indoctrination to construct their own self-organized, autonomous identities. Ezra Pound’s The Cantos captures the speaker-poet’s extensive process of inner conflict, providing a unique opportunity to track the progress of the hero’s transformation into a personality, or a man. American Gods is a more fully realized portrayal of a character who undergoes the complete paradigmatic collapse of positive disintegration and deliberate self-derived self-revision in a more distilled linear fashion. Importantly, using a Dabrowskian lens to re-examine contemporary literature that has evolved to portray how the experience of psychopathology leads to metaphorical death—which may have any combination of negative or positive outcomes—has not only socio-cultural significance but important personal implications as well.


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