Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Daniel Bronson

Committee Member

T.E. Benediktsson

Committee Member

Gregory Waters


In Robert Olen Butler’s A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, the collection focuses on the Vietnamese that emigrated to America because of the Vietnam War. Through these short stories, Butler illustrates the physical displacement of the characters, and their new role within their new home, America, as the Other.

Throughout examining the physical displacement and the characters’ status as the Other, this thesis focuses on the after effects of the Vietnam War. Each character attempts to cope with their displacement and Other-ness through a variety of methods including exploitation of their Other-ness for monetary gains, using their sexuality to achieve assimilation into their new society through a domestic role, focusing on other aspects of their life (i.e. business) in order to avoid their physical displacement, or trying to create a legacy with their son, or coming to terms with death. This thesis focuses on these characters’ attempts to achieve assimilation into their new culture through their various methods while they attempt to maintain their Vietnamese culture.

This thesis also uses critical works from Homi Bhabha and Edward Said to further explore the Post-Colonial aspect of the short story collection, as well as Derek Attridge’s definition of the Other (the three are Post-Colonial critics/scholars). In order to more fully understand the collection and its place in Vietnam Literature, an emerging subgenre within the past two or three decades, critics like Owen Gilman Jr., Philip Beidler, and Steffen Hantke are used to describe the Vietnam Literature sub-genre, as well as where Robert Olen Butler’s place in the field stands and the impact and importance of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.

File Format