Giving Godhead




Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Document Type



As its suggestively punning title implies, Giving Godhead is a volume of poetry that challenges the boundary between the sacred and the obscene by conflating biblical images of “holy” acquiescence with sexually deviant forms of submission characteristic of BDSM roleplaying. This conflation of saintly and sinful acts of submission naturally centers around a meditation on Christ’s Passion, emphasizing the paradoxical way in which the Christian savior’s simultaneous authority and obedience fashions him into a heteronormative archetype of both masculine dominance and feminine submission, despite his own supposed celibacy. However, the manuscript ultimately looks beyond individual biblical narratives to illustrate their central commonalities and even interchangeability, locating echoes of Christ’s violent subjugation in Torahdic plagues, exiles, and burnt offerings alike. Similarly, this guiding principle of conflation or interchangeability extends also to Giving Godhead’s richly musical aesthetic, which features dense wordplay and double entendres in order to demonstrate the inevitable sensual trans-figurations of a “word made flesh” merely to be “broken and bruised for our iniquities.” In this way, Giving Godhead rewrites the foundational narratives of biblical mythology in light of contemporary gender and social theory, namely by portraying humanity’s relationship with a monolithic deity as the primordial paradigm of an imbalanced and abusive power dynamic.



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Committee Chair

Mullen, Laura



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