Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Theory and Criticism


Pero, Allan


late 14c., originally in grammar (in reference to certain nouns that do not name concrete things), from Latin abstractus "drawn away," past participle of abstrahere "to drag away, detach, pull away, divert;" also figuratively, from assimilated form of ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + trahere "to draw," from PIE root *tragh- "to draw, drag, move."

“To drag away” I find particularly evocative.

“The candidate must ensure that the abstract refers to all the elements that would make the thesis worth consulting.”

I find this, of course, to be a paralyzing requirement. This thesis is not worth “consulting,” I don’t think. It’s more something you endure. Ideally, it’s something you enjoy. If you, dear reader, are reading this abstract right now, you can likely surmise what you’d be getting yourself into if you decided it was worth your attention. It’s a eulogy to my friend Whitney Mah, an emblem of my mourning, a book report on Jacques Lacan’s third and 17th seminars, some speculations about the ways psychoanalysis can help us reimagine what teaching is and can be, a mutilation of a pretty obscure short story by the pretty obscure writer Donald Barthelme, and a swaying plainscape within which some of the finest sentences of my life have taken root.