Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Richard Schwartz

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bruce Harvey

Third Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis was to explore why and how the author Dave Eggers subverts the genre of traditional autobiography in his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I compared Eggers' work to Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and William S. Burroughs' Junky. I found that like Stein and Burroughs, Eggers utilized various rhetorical devices outside of traditional autobiography because he could not find the means to express himself within the genre. Eggers employed various rhetorical methods reserved for fictional texts, such as stream of consciousness, characterization, and irony, in order to reconcile his feelings towards his parents' deaths and render those feelings in his memoir.

I established that Eggers concluded his memoir with impossibility of arriving at one Meaning that could summate his tragic experience. Thus, I proved that Eggers gave the reader the only authentic interpretation he could: the memoir as a small, incomplete glimpse into his life.





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