Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts

School or Department

Creative Writing Program


English – Creative Writing

Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Erin Saldin


memoir, religion, addiction, personal essay, Catholicism

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Nonfiction


The things that occupy our lives tell human stories. They often go beyond literal interpretation, leaving space for places, people, desires, dreams, and ideologies to be signified and examined. Personal history is a well-traveled source of inspiration, and it provides significant, meaningful symbols for the concepts I’m engaging with in my newest collection. My project, titled Kept Things, is a collection of three nonfiction pieces examining why and how things are kept, lost, and discarded, whether we have a choice in the matter or not. The significance of symbols to identity and memory acts as a through-line between each piece. The first of these pieces, “Opportunity”, examines the ties to and experience of losing an ancestral house in Opportunity, Montana. Feelings of family instability and grief are central to the piece, and circle back around in the following pieces, the next of which is “Keeper”. “Keeper” is a scene-based character and relationship study of my brother and I. I use his struggles with addiction as a focal point within the piece. The reader is given context to decide for themselves whether all relationships should be preserved and fostered, or if it is a better decision to let people go, even those closest to us. The final piece of this collection is “In the House of the Lord”, which takes the metaphysical object of an interpersonal relationship and stretches it to a personal relationship with an entire faith system, mine being Catholicism. In delving back into religious experience (Catholic and otherwise) I seek to determine the real applicability of shaping our identity markers to our own design, and how we can shape ourselves through conscious manipulation of what we let affect our thinking and self-worth. These three pieces will work together to illustrate different manifestations of “kept things” and what that phrase can mean to every individual.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project


Included in

Nonfiction Commons



© Copyright 2023 Caroline J. Tuss