Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Michael Cody

Committee Members

Scott Honeycutt, Judith Slagle


The work of nineteenth-century American poet Phoebe Cary presents a complex puzzle of exigence and purpose that combines social structure, political climate, and personal history. Known for her somber and spiritual sentimental poetry, Cary shocked readers and reviewers alike when she published her collection Poems and Parodies in 1854, which contained a series of scathing and hilarious parodies based on popular sentimental poetry. In my thesis, I work to untangle the various contextual elements surrounding Cary’s writing in order to gain a better understanding of the dual nature of the poet and her work. Through an examination of nineteenth-century American culture, sentimentalism, Cary’s career, and a close reading of selected parodies, I argue that by intentionally undermining patriarchal, sentimental conventions, Cary both reinstates agency and plurality to women through her female speakers and asserts her own agency as an autonomous artist.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.