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2008-2009 Honors Student
Name: Victoria Anne Bartkus
Honors in: English
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Major(s): English/Secondary Education
Title of project: Telling Tales: Narrative Innovation in Three Novels by Faulkner
Abstract or brief description: William Faulkner, a renowned American novelist of the 20th century, experimented with different approaches to narrative, ultimately settling on the use of multiple narrators, an innovative literary technique for his time. Four main functions of Faulknerian narrative are explored throughout this thesis. First, it explores the idea that multiple narrators create multiple perspectives, defining characters and their relationships to one another by contradiction. Second, Faulknerian narrators influence the events of a novel’s plot, shaping them with their various accounts. Third, these narrators each utilize a different level of intellectual analysis, ultimately creating a continuum of reflective thinking. Finally, Faulkner uses narrative voice to explore the dichotomy between a preferred narrator and the idea of fragmented truth. In the end readers question: was there any single voice of truth? This thesis endeavors to explain these four functions in detail by focusing solely on three of Faulkner’s novels: The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom! and As I Lay Dying. It references scholarly research into the use of narration, both in general and specifically by Faulkner.
How did you get interested in your topic? I fell in love with Faulkner during high school while reading The Sound and the Fury. There was something about the characters, the relationships, the plot... the words enchanted me. When presented with the opportunity to independently research a topc of my own, my mind immediately flew to Faulkner. But what could I study? Being infatuated with stories and the way stories can be told, I decided to ask Dr. Reid (who then became my advisor) for help. She and I worked diligently to define a topic: Faulkner's use of narration.
Do you intend to research your topic further, if so, how? While I am taking a year off of school to be a first-year teacher, I do plan on applying to graduate school next year. While in grad. school, I plan to further my studies, and ultimately write a Master's thesis on the topic.
How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? Having the opportunity to research a self-selected topic gives you intellectual freedom. It's a release from the contraints of a regimented class. I was able to research a topic that was interesting to me, and do it in my own time. Through this experience, I learned the importance of effective time management and the importance of thorough research. What's more, I learned that the Writing Process isn't just something I teach my students - it's a crucial part of creating writing that you can be proud to call your own.
How has the department (or faculty advisor) in which you studied prepared you for the future? Since I plan to teach English, all of my classes have helped to build an intellectual background that will serve me well. I rest assured knowing that the English classes I've had at Moravian have prepared me for anything that I will be faced with in my future classroom.
What advice do you have for other students interested in honors? Just do it! It's a trying and frustrating experience but, in the end, it's completely worth it. You'll spend endless nights writing and editing your thesis. We all do it. In the end, though, you're left with the culmination of all your efforts - your "book," your "baby," of which you'll be extremely proud.