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Title: Gardens in the sands : the notion of space in recent critical theory and contemporary writing from the French Antilles
Author: Coates, Nicholas Benjamin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2666 9941
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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Although space is one of the central elements of all literary fiction, the 'spatiality' of literary texts has not, until recently, been given the attention it deserves. This thesis aims to elaborate a reconceptualisation of space in literature and critical theory in parallel with what Soja has called 'the reassertion of space in critical social theory'. Drawing on the work of Lefebvre I outline a critique of a Western tradition which views space as neutral, universal or abstract. I pursue this critique through an analysis of postmodern, poststructural and postcolonial theory, which react against this universalising view of space in favour of a relational approach which simultaneously reasserts the notion of 'place'. I demonstrate the interconnectedness of these areas of contemporary discourse from a historico-theoretical perspective by arguing that there is a complicity between the evolution of Enlightenment 'modernity' and the practice of colonialism. This argument enables the development of a politics of resistance based on radical difference, but also characterised by hybridity, by an 'impure' philosophical discourse which proceeds through the deconstruction of static binary categories to focus on identity and culture as forms of the in-between. Based on this theoretical matrix, I proceed to focus on Francophone Caribbean texts in which space becomes not a theatrical 'backdrop', but a constituent part of being. I argue that the spaces of Francophone Caribbean texts - both formal and representational - are used to articulate a Caribbean epistemology as well as a baroque aesthetic derived from the conteur-tradition. In a reading of three recent novels (Conde's Traversee de la mangrove, Chamoiseau's Texaco and Glissant's Tout-monde), I examine in turn the notions of a 'contaminated' community, an alternative mode of history-making opposed to Western values and, finally, how spatial figures and terms come to figure a conception of identity' and space as 'chaotic'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available