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Title: Assembling a postmodern identity : subjectivity and agency in a selection of fiction by Jeanette Winterson and Paul Auster
Author: Hegarty, Emma Jane
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2008
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Abstract:
This thesis investigates how two contemporary postmodem novelists, in addition to a number ofpostmodem theorists, challenge the debilitating poststructuralist approach to identity without reverting to an essentialist, Enlightenment depiction of individual autonomy and absolutes. Through distinctive, alternative approaches, both Jeanette Winterson and Paul Auster depict an understanding of an enabled subjective agent who engages in a continuing process ofself-creation through the renewal ofabandoned imagery, forms and narrative structures. Such undertakings require a degree ofselfdetermination while recognising dependency upon the 'other' and the fragmented condition of lmowledge. Their respective examinations oftextual composition elucidate the processes ofassembling a postmodem identity undertaken by characters, while indicating, through the exposure of literary frames, that such practices must also be adopted by the reader and author. By engaging with these authors in the context of subjectivity and agency, previously undervalued novels gain the recognition they deserve, while early works, which have been categorised accordiDg to reductive readings, may be reinterpreted. The fIrst four chapters offer close readings of Winterson's Written on the Body and Art & Lies and Auster's Moon Palace and Leviathan. These localised debates draw upon the material ofpostmodem theorists including Charles Altieri, Judith Butler, Simon Critchley, David Harvey and Richard Rorty, in addition to the critical collections of Winterson and Auster. However, the fIfth and [mal chapter assembles the implications of the textual analyses in a more detailed examination of theories of postmodem agency and subjectivity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Queen's University Belfast, 2008 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.485069  DOI: Not available
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