Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Karem, Frederick

Subject Headings

Hickam, Homer H, 1943- -- History and criticism, Bakhtin, M M (Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich), 1895-1975, Discourse analysis, Literary, Women in literature, American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism, Homer Hickam, discourse, Bakhtin, Red Helmet


Homer Hickam's 2007 book, Red Helmet tells the story of a New York business woman's (Song) transformation into a West Virginian coal miner. Red Helmet is a modern, commercial romance that fits into the category of Appalachian working-class literature. The introduction of this study details the characteristics of regional and Appalachian working-class literature and aligns the characteristics to the plot of Red Helmet. A discussion of Bakhtin's theories of heteroglossia, hybridization, language stratification, dialogism, and discourse laid the foundation for the analysis of Song's transformation from an outsider (a non-native of West Virginia) to an accepted and productive member of a West Virginia coal mining community (other). Bakhtin's theory of dialogism within particular words is the focus of Chapter 2. The final chapter explores the different discourses present in the novel. The discourses include: the urban New York discourse, the romantic love discourse, the business discourse, the coal miner discourse, and the religion/God discourse. Each of the discourses affects Song in some way and aid in her transformation to a coal miner. Intense scrutiny is given to the coal miner and religious discourses as these are the areas in which Song's thought patterns shift the most. Application of Bakhtin's theories of discourse and dialogue within a text clarifies these shifts