Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ana Lusczynka

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Bruce Harvey

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Roland Barthes, Death of the Author, Michel Foucault

Date of Defense



Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s literary style transforms from his first novel, "Player’s Piano" (1952), to his final book, "Timequake" (1997). Most of his novels adhere to a similar style – the narrators face a puzzling societal fault that is exaggerated in their dystopian societies, which hides Vonnegut’s humanistic leanings.

This thesis, however, focuses on Vonnegut’s authorial identity, his use of the alter ego, and eventual entrance into the novel. His authorial role challenges the literary theory expressed in “The Death of the Author”(1967) by Roland Barthes and further discussed in “What is an Author”(1969) by Michel Foucault. Barthes explains an author metaphorically dies after his book is published and Foucault questions the author’s role and importance to his novel.

Vonnegut juxtaposes fictional and nonfictional material whereby his character is paramount to his work. Therefore, Vonnegut challenges Barthes and Foucault’s notion that an author restricts his work; rather, Vonnegut’s identity empowers his novels.





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