Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Michael L. Meng

Committee Member

Dr. Kathryn Langenfeld

Committee Member

Dr. Benjamin L. White


My thesis explores the historical question: “Is there any freedom from death?” through three figures within the Western metaphysical tradition: Thucydides (460-400 BCE), Augustine (354-430 CE), and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). In so doing, my thesis suggests the following: for Thucydides, freedom from death arose through the immortality of empire; for Augustine, through the immortality of God’s grace; and for Cervantes, through the immortality of narratives/attitudes of immortality. Moreover, I nest my claim within an exploratory narrative. Which is to say that, lifting a page from Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), I have attempted to break away from the near total dominance of Historie—that is, the “conventional” or “standard” way of thinking about the past that seeks to make direct connections and show continuity between primary sources—to create a form of Geschichte: an exploratory way of thinking about the past that attempts to actively explore primary sources without intentionally making direct connections. In this light, my exploratory narrative stands as a historical recalling of the Greek concept of ἱστορία (historia): I seek to create an attitude of active engagement toward the writings of Thucydides, Augustine, and Cervantes. Hence my main intervention to the study of death: to offer an alive piece of writing that attempts to think, question, and challenge both my primary sources and my own narrative creation.



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