Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In Deviant Form: American Literary Exiles, Logical Contradiction, and Postmodernism, I argue that a growing belief in the truth of logical paradoxes irrevocably changed twentieth-century American literature and culture. In the philosophy of logic, “deviant logics” are those that, unlike Aristotelian logic, allow for some paradoxes to be true. Like the sentence “This very sentence is false,” true paradoxes (or, interchangeably, true contradictions) are true if false and false if true, and can be traced through four defining cultural currents of twentieth-century American history: Supreme Court law, Marxism, Buddhist philosophy, and mathematical logic. Changes across these four currents also constituted important backgrounds for four of the most vital genres of postmodern American writing: namely, multi-ethnic or what I call “uncitizen” literature, Exilliteratur, Beat writing, and science fiction. Each genre thus holds examples of what I call “deviant form,” postmodern works that were both socially and logically deviant. Isolating for a belief in true paradoxes makes for interesting and productive pairings. Bridging the “analytic-continental divide” in philosophy and uniting the New Critics and deconstructionists in literary theory, true logical contradictions show how and where postmodern literature does in fact make truth claims.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

William J. Maxwell

Committee Members

Guinn Batten, Matt Erlin, Long Le-Khac, Steven Meyer,

Available for download on Tuesday, August 13, 2030