Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in English



First Advisor

Jay D. Watson

Second Advisor

Charles Reagan Wilson

Third Advisor

Jaime L. Harker

Relational Format



This dissertation aims to study literary representations of interwar American deathways as reflections of modernity. The study of burial in United States history tends to focus on mid- to late-nineteenth century movements that distance the dead from the living. This dissertation argues that these practices left Americans ill-equipped to process the influx of death from the conflict areas of World War I, keen to allow the further development of the funeral industry during the interwar period, and anxious about the certain rise in death tolls that would result from World War II. Interwar literature, therefore, exhibits a difficulty in meaning-making that extends to the increased death toll and the modernization of deathways between the world wars. Novels examined include John Dos Passos's 1919 and One Man's Initiation: 1917; William Faulkner's Soldiers' Pay, As I Lay Dying, and Sanctuary; Willa Cather's One of Ours; Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One; and Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun.



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