Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 66 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Michael Leong


Consciousness, Death, Memory, Nothingness, Sleep, Unbeing, Coma, Nurses, Pregnant women

Subject Categories

Creative Writing


"I Am a Branch in a Dark Room"–– the first of two intersecting novellas–– relays the consciousness of Edmund, a young man trapped in a waking coma. He is able to hear the sounds of the care facility yet unable to directly engage them. To him, he seems only a mind, drifting untethered from the world around him; to the world–– and even his own mother–– he seems little more than a corpse. As the narrative progresses, his bearing is fractured and he reels toward the void. The self reduces: from an interior monologue, to a cluster of perception, until, “deprived of all perspective and horizon”, he is “reduced to an intuition,” to borrow a phrase from Marilynne Robinson. The second novella–– told by Edmund's nurse–– expands this mind-body dichotomy. Recently pregnant, she contemplates his condition as a new consciousness blooms within her. Channeling a Beckettian notion of “unbirth” through the lyricism of Robinson, "I Am a Branch in a Dark Room" is a meditation on the condition of consciousness, the potency of memory, and the endless mystery of our own being.