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Title: Literature, architecture, and postmodernity : Donald Barthelme and J.G. Ballard
Author: Sierra, Nicole Marquita
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Focusing on works between the 1960s and the early ’80s, this thesis sets the literature of Donald Barthelme (1931–1989) and J.G. Ballard (1930–2009) within the context of twentieth-century architectural theory and history (written), design (drawn), productions (built), professional practice (managed), and pedagogy (taught). The primary aim of this study is to explore the discursive exchange between literature and architecture, while probing the putative association between postmodernity and architecture. By introducing a broader set of social phenomena into debates about postmodernity, my thesis enables a revaluation of how the architectural idiom is interpreted in literature. Using textual and visual analysis, this thesis argues that Barthelme’s and Ballard’s literary works operate at an intersection of the visual arts and mass media. Responding to American and European twentieth-century visual avant-gardes and socio-cultural transformations, architecture participates in the formulation of avant-garde conceptual frameworks. Critically, architecture is not only an aesthetic discipline; it is also a social discourse. Through the discipline’s alignment with ‘new’ and ‘old’ avant-gardes, Barthelme and Ballard use architecture as a point of creative departure to undertake formal and thematic literary experiments. For both authors, contact with the architectural avant-garde has literary consequences. This thesis considers four interconnecting ways literature and architecture ‘speak’ to each other: representation, discourse, formal comparisons, and influence or inspiration. Within my study these topics are examined through critical meditations on architecture from geographical (Fredric Jameson, David Harvey), architectural (Robert Venturi, Charles Jencks) and visual cultural (W. J. T. Mitchell, Marshall McLuhan) sources. Also figuring prominently are epitextual materials, especially archival documentation from the Donald Barthelme Literary Papers at the University of Houston and the Papers of J. G. Ballard collection at the British Library. This thesis opens up new ways of understanding the interart pluralism that characterises the postmodern.
Supervisor: Marcus, Laura Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: American literature in English ; English and Old English literature ; Architecture ; Painting & paintings ; Visual art and representation ; postmodernism ; surrealism ; literature and architecture ; cubism ; avant-garde ; Ballard ; Barthelme