Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jonathan Lethem

Reader 2

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

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© 2022 Kyla Walker



In the winter of 1994, Deniz leaves Istanbul, her life as a mathematics schoolteacher, and the engagement arranged for her since she was born (sometime during the sexual revolution of the ‘60s). She buys a plane ticket and moves to New York City without knowing a soul or having enough money for a month’s rent. Landing a job as a movie theater usher on the Lower East Side, she meets idiosyncratic characters and voyeurs who seem to come straight from a film. Increasingly absorbed by the wide screen, the HD cameras, and the made-up image of what it means to be an American, Deniz finds a place in which she might finally belong. While sneaking into the Sunday matinees of Pulp Fiction, Before Sunrise, Sabrina, and The Usual Suspects, she learns how to be alive from people who never were. Two decades later, through telling the story (Scheherazade-style) to her daughter, Deniz confronts the possibility that belonging isn’t the same as longing, and citizenship may not have been the same as Americanship—something that may be unattainable or, at the very least, probably costs much more than a general admission ticket to that old cinema on Delancey Street.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.