Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Karem, Jeff

Subject Headings

Bukowski, Charles -- Criticism and interpretation, United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century, Charles Bukowski, Notes of a dirty old man, Genre, Gender, 1960's fiction, Journalism


Charles Bukowski's notes of a dirty old man is a genre-blurring, gender-blending "start" to the perpetual "work-in-progress" that constitutes his oeuvre. Bukowski's genre heterogeneity provides a literal shape-shifting that allows the Bukowski-character to experiment with his a fluid, indeterminate subjectivity, helping unravel the tight myth that binds him as a "dirty old man." Examining one of the vignettes in the book, the column recounting Bukowski meeting Neal Cassady, showcases Bukowski's engagement with autobiography and creative nonfiction in order to respond to constructions of verisimilitude this is inextricably linked to other organized constructions Bukowski must work in--or out from--namely the hierarchy of gender and masculinities. The questions and constructions of realistic genres illuminate the overtly created fictions of social norms. This highlights something often overlooked in the scholarly criticism that is, Bukowski's explicit creation--his overt invention--of what others seem to assume is simply his natural, "direct and honest" style. Bukowski's commentary on gender, especially within the reprinted letters in Notes, ties to Bukowski's generic choices. Like economics and class, genre and gender are not (re)produced in an expected or hierarchical fashion in Bukowski's work, and Notes is one of many examples of the rhizomatic nature of Bukowski's commentary on literary and social organizations. For Bukowski, these realms are intricately related