Fiction, Novel, American Colleges and Universities, Fraternity, Millennial Generation, Quarterlife Crisis, University of Illinois.


This thesis, a social novel in the tradition of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is all at once an attentive first-person study of a twenty-something man close to his cracking point in his first post-college job, a detailed expose of national fraternities, and the sweeping panoramic view of an entire generation of over-programmed college students searching for direction. Frat Star follows a fragile college graduate named Charles Washington, who takes a position as an "Educational Consultant" with a national fraternity in his first semester after graduation. For sixteen straight weeks, he drives across the country, from college to college and fraternity house to fraternity house, meeting with alumni and students, and living on frat house couches and in seedy off-exit hotels. As he travels, the pressure mounts for Charles to convince his family and friends back home that this is a "Real Job" and that his work actually matters to the business world, but at each new fraternity house he visits, his yearning for the old college atmosphere grows--the beer, the parties, the girls!--threatening to send him into a frightening tailspin. How can he be a professional when the temptations of youth still seem so attractive? And before Charles can sort out what is happening in his own life, he finds himself stuck in a vicious tug-of-war between students, alumni, administrators, and the national fraternity, when he must deal with one particularly abrasive undergraduate fraternity and the aftermath of its disastrous decisions. Spanning thousands of miles, from Florida to California, from Illinois to New Mexico, this thesis takes us inside fraternity houses, into their attics and their basements, behind the scenes of their rituals and ceremonies, inside their parties, inside their heads, giving us a view not only of the power of the national fraternity, but the disconnect between alumnus and student, between Baby Boomer and Generation X and Millennial. Incorporating research as varied as the generational studies of Howe and Strauss, and Alexandra Robbins' psychological study of the "Quarterlife Crisis," Frat Star stretches across the country, stretches across genre, stretches from text to illustration, but is ultimately the human story of a young man's longing for morality, independence, and purpose in a world he simply has not been prepared to understand.


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Graduation Date





Leiby, Jeanne


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing








Release Date

May 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)