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Title: Fictions of authority : enchanters, teachers and mentors in selected fiction of Iris Murdoch and A.S. Byatt
Author: Reuter, Anne-Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2691 5516
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis aims at showing how pedagogical concerns are manifest in the writing of Iris Murdoch and A. S. Byatt. Through the portrayal of teacher and learner characters they explore the working of authority in relationships marked by power, seduction, admiration and love. As Murdoch‟s and Byatt's learners share a tendency to choose a person or a work of literature as a guiding master, who is invested with excessive power, the proximity of teachers' and authors' concerns becomes apparent. Both authors analyse writer and reader characters alongside the pedagogical figures, and their own writing reacts to the concepts of authority as discussed within the novels. Murdoch rejects authority in principle with the consequence of becoming authoritarian in fact but also enchanting through the mystery she imposes on her readers. Byatt accepts authority and moves between an authoritative affirmation of her position and an opening up to the reader, which also leads to a sense of mystery. The conceptual tools used in this thesis are the figure of the fairy-tale enchanter as a teacher and writer model, as well as the figure of Socrates, and above all Jacques Rancière's concepts of the "explicating" and the "ignorant" master. While Rancière's two types need to have enchanting qualities in order to affect change, authority is determined by the needs of the learner, who may be satisfied with explanations and a transmission of knowledge, or who may have the self-confidence to do without firm guidance. Moreover, the timing of the experience is crucial, since what goes unnoticed at one moment may become obvious and clear later on. What exactly authority is, remains obscure to the end, since it is the result of a complex interplay between learners, teachers, lessons on the one hand and readers, authors, texts on the other hand.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature