Keep the Doors Open Thesis

(2013). Keep the Doors Open . 10.25148/etd.FI13120617

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Rivera, Lauren C


  • My purpose in writing this collection of lyric essays is to examine my evolution during one decade, from age 19 to 29. Essential questions have guided me: What stimulated change? What formed my decisions? What predisposed me to my relationship with my partner? Why did I want to have a child? What kind of relationship do I have with my son? How did my relationship with my partner evolve? Why did we decide to leave Miami? Hopefully, I have given the reader a glimpse into my movement from self-centeredness to motherhood, from aloof adolescent to committed partner, from timid daughter to self-aware individual. The nature of my inquiry led me to confessional conclusions that clarified my reactive behavior or lack of initiative, which my initial memories of the same events often disguised. These confessions are sometimes as satisfying as the more celebratory moments themselves, because they challenge older notions of self and invite the possibility of change.

    Specific authors who have provided models of substance and style include, but are not limited to Annie Dillard, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sharon Olds, Michael Ondaatje, and Richard Rodriguez. I use lyrical techniques to translate my experiences into crafted prose. I incorporate recurring lines to create links between essays that stand alone, thereby forming a sequence. Some experiences are so personal and specific to me that using an adopted form, such as a repurposed fairy tale, a cento, and the inverted pyramid, has allowed me to create a measure of distance from the subject, which I found necessary for rendering it clearly. I allude to specific songs to help me establish exposition and lend tone and texture to my scenes. I chose to use the second person and direct my words to a specific audience, such as my mother, my partner, or my son, because at times it feels more authentic to let the reader listen to the way I speak to that person than to tell about the relationship. I also chose to capture the voices of certain people speaking directly to me in order to establish the most authentic speaker. My effort to answer essential questions sometimes conjured scenes from the distant past. I use line breaks to let the reader fill in the gaps or make the leap to explore connections across time. Juxtaposition and prolepsis link these tableaus so the reader can see my life and uncover the answers along with me.

publication date

  • November 15, 2013


  • Bildungsroman
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Cuban-American
  • Identity
  • Inhibition
  • Love
  • Lyric Essay
  • Memoir
  • Motherhood
  • Self-Analysis

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)