Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work



Dr. Emily James, Dr. Alexis Easley, Dr. Todd Lawrence


To write a book is to create a dwelling. Ali Smith’s novels are equal parts narrative and blueprint in the sense that they usher the reader into spaces, homes, habitats, and residences. Thus, an author is surely an architect—someone who designs and plans stories on top of stories—someone concerned with form and function, aesthetic and purpose. Smith’s 2014 novel How to Be Both abounds with images of homes and roofs and doors. This essay is interested in architectural and literary thresholds, thresholds that welcome movement and exchange. Such spaces facilitate a type of narrative reciprocity between the novel’s two sections. Smith thus expands the concept of the traditional frame narrative and creates what I call a reciprocal frame narrative focused on exchange instead of embeddedness. I explore the architecture of and in How to Be Both to better understand the connections between the two protagonists, George and Francescho.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.