Document Type



Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Creative Writing

First Advisor's Name

Julie Wade

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lynne Barrett

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Arts and Humanities, Creative Writing, English Language and Literature, Literature in English and North America, Nonfiction

Date of Defense



Influenced by— and sometimes in conversation with— diverse literary voices such as Dorothy Allision (BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA), Harry Crews (A CHILDHOOD), and Mark Doty (FIREBIRD), SPLIT AT THE ROOT is a literary bildungsroman told primarily in the narrative mode. The memoir traces the narrator’s volatile beginnings in the trailer parks of rural South Carolina in the 1980s to the day he accepted, sight unseen, an offer of admission to Yale University, boarding a plane in 1993 for the first time in his life. This memoir explores the narrator’s quest for agency, deploying the essayist mode to interrogate along the way urgent themes such as class and cultural capital, addiction, domestic violence, marginalization, survivorship, victimhood, and always with careful attention to the reader’s need for the engaging and well-told story.





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