Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in English

First Advisor

Derrick Harriell

Second Advisor

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Third Advisor

Leigh Anne Duck


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Chasing the Light is a young adult novel-in-verse is a 16-year-old Haitian American teen photographer and survivor of dating violence who is a lover of myth and folklore, who is good at keeping secrets, and who is hungry for freedom. Her parents want her to follow the traditional path of going to college and pursuing a well-paying career like becoming a lawyer or a doctor. She wants to be free to uncover truths about her newly single self and to make her mark as a young artist aspiring to go to college to study photography so she could become a fine art photographer. When Kassandra’s mother learns that Kassandra has discovered the Haitian vodou practices of Kassandra’s aunt, her mother forbids Kassandra from exploring this further and forbids her sister from exposing her daughter to what she considers a dangerous spiritual system—at least some of the time. Kassandra is only to focus on being a good student, faithful to one God, an obedient daughter to her parents, and keep her photography interests to just a hobby that doesn’t interfere with her real schoolwork and goals. Ultimately Kassandra must learn how to choose between pleasing herself and pleasing others in order to be and achieve what she desires. Chasing the Light draws from theories on Black personhood and self-discovery offered by W.E.B. Du Bois through verse and young adult literature that centers a young Black woman protagonist.

Available for download on Wednesday, October 30, 2024