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Title: The author as a critical category, 1850-1900
Author: Selleri, Andrea
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis analyses the notion of "author" as a "critical category" in literary interpretation, i.e. the extent to which author-related knowledge is used to make claims about a literary work which exceed what could have been said of the text alone. Chapter 1 gives an account of the principal theorisations made about the critical category of the author in literary theory and analytical aesthetics. It is argued that ontology is a central dimension of these theories, and in particular that the notion of the “author” as a relevant element for interpretation is logically dependent on a "thick" ontology of the literary work, i.e. on considering the work as irreducible to its textual manifestation. It is argued that the "author" in literary interpretation is typically constructed out of notions that come from two different sources, namely the text and the writer. The historical situatedness of this "thick" ontology in a modern conception of copyright law is also briefly analysed. Chapter 2 tackles the use of the category in the British and French culture of the second half of the nineteenth century. It is argued that the dominant critical paradigm in the age was “authorialist”, i.e. it considered the author as always relevant for an understanding of the work. A case is made for this tendency being a part of a larger tendency within that culture to consider phenomena in terms of their genesis. The practical consequences of this in the literary interpretation of the time are then considered. Chapters 3 and 4 propose a series of close readings of literary works of the same area and period, mainly associated with the Decadence (Swinburne, Pater, Mirbeau, Wilde). The focus is on the issue of whether and how their textual features comply with or resist the "authorialist" readings to which they were subjected.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick ; Arts & Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN0080 Criticism