English, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-2016

Document Type



Steele, Cameron. The Girl With The Fur Coat. 2016. Lincoln, NE. Print.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Kwame S. Dawes. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Cameron S. Steele


THE GIRL WITH THE FUR COAT thesis is comprised of 40 poems and a five-page introduction that examine – with equal parts intimacy and distance – how interior and exterior violence threatens female subjecthood, as well as how girlhood is always – and will always be – transforming the female self. The thesis produces this intimate-yet-distancing effect through a close attention to the (primarily free-verse) forms of the individual poems and how those forms interact with the poems’ subjects, bodies, Surrealist moments and fabulist imagery. Also, the arrangement of the poems helps to create a sense of close, disturbing conversation between all of these elements in an effort to move the reader past a sense of desensitization on the one hand and shock-value entertainment on the other – what theorist Geoffrey Hartman calls the by-products of narratives that privilege the real, the testimonial, the straightforward confession. The poetry is informed by the nearly four years I spent as investigative reporter in the Deep South as well my own histories with domestic abuse and mental illness. As a result, I have often sought disruption with my poetry; it goes part and parcel with my own lived experiences and quest for critique, urgency and truthfulness in the poems I write. Situated next to an introduction that, quite straightforwardly, tells a short version of the story of my life as a reporter, a survivor of sexual assault, and suicide, the poems provide an intertextual look at trauma, confession, and womanhood.

Advisor: Kwame S. Dawes