As humans, we like to think that our identities grow alongside our bodies and minds, that they are carved out gradually and imperceptibly by the slow-moving glaciers of lived experience. We regard the self as largely immutable-as a genuine, indelible, and whole entity that comes from within. But humans are social animals. Identity doesn't form in a vacuum. We change selves like we change clothes-and quite often when we change clothes, hairstyles, vocabularies, intonations, and mannerisms. We assume various, sometimes conflicting personas when we interact with peers, authority figures, parents, children, mentors, lovers, and strangers. When we're alone, our interior personas are ephemeral, changing with every experience we have. Even our deepest, most private identities don't tell the whole story; by means of the subconscious, we obscure elements of our identities even from our own conscious minds. This collection of creative nonfiction essays explores the concept of the transient, layered self Which parts of our identities are genuine, which are manufactured, and where do they intersect? What's the difference between the way we perceive ourselves and the way others perceive us? How much control do we have over how we're perceived? What separates the flaws we obscure from the ones we broadcast? What happens when we're forced to inhabit conflicting personas at the same time? Through the lenses of femininity, mental health, internet culture, and sex, this collection of personal narratives , cultural analyses, and graphic essays attempts to map the complex set of variables that compose human identity.

Committee Member

Geoffrey Herbach

Committee Member

Richard Terrill

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Program of Study

Creative Writing




Arts and Humanities



Rights Statement

In Copyright