Date of Graduation


Document Type

MFA Creative Writing Thesis

Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Maurice G Taylor

Committee Co-Chair

Mark Brazaitis

Committee Member

James Knipple


This thesis, the first third of a novel, attempts to track issues of gender, race and Southern identity from post-Civil Rights era to today. The pages follow two female protagonists:;Katie Mae Doddridge in 1978 and Olivia Meigs in August 2014. Katie Mae is the sole daughter of the Doddridge family, which owns the Doddridge Distillery in Tennessee. At the beginning of the novel, in March 1978, the family faces a decision of selling the business to a larger corporation. Competing interests between the generations and siblings are complicated by the family's longstanding relationship with a black family, Walter and Lucinda Thomas and their children.;Olivia is a Tennessee native living in New York state and working as a newspaper reporter. However, a story, commissioned on ethically gray ground by a woman with ties to the newspaper's new publisher, sends her back South. The assignment involves the purchase of a prized Tennessee Walking Horse and his move to New York state. While Olivia covers the story, she and those around her are confronted with the evolving events in Ferguson, Missouri. Additionally, Olivia discovers the legend of the Doddridge Distillery and crucially, that the distillery burned to the ground in September 1978.;While the chapters alternate between the women's narrative threads, their plots lines unfold so that the reader is following the 1978 story as it moves toward September and Olivia is researching the same story thirty-six years later.

Embargo Reason

Permanent Embargo – MFA Creative Writing

Available for download on Monday, January 01, 2046