Date of Award


Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

T Fleischmann

Second Advisor

Tara Betts

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


The Body Names Itself is a genre-fluxed intermedia art and writing project, containing verse, prose, photography, improvisation, and performance. The story is centered on a dancer named Elle who is told at the age of ten that she consumed her brother in the womb and her belief that his vengeful presence remains inside of her body. She names this presence “Dragon” and constructs a self-mythology around it in order to better understand and articulate her physical and emotional experience. As the story progresses, she learns to do this through movement and choreography.

The narrative begins with Elle in the egg and ends with her first year in a college dance program. It explores the shifting relationship she has with Dragon, and how this presence affects the relationships she builds around her, starting with her family and ending with her college roommates (referred to as hatchlings) and her neighbors (referred to as engineers and led by a boy named Troubled).

The text is broken into three stages for each of the three main characters: Elle, Troubled, and Dragon, and explores themes of trauma, violence, gender, sexuality, power, and memory. The overall form borrows from the notebook, with fragments of narrative, a chorus of speakers, and varied forms, all contained within a larger dance performance.


This thesis is restricted to USM access only.