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Title: In a message dated ...
Author: Cutler, Angela Morgan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 1646
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2005
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This dissertation was prompted by Barthes' ironic injunction that 'No "thesis" on the pleasure of the text is possible'. With characteristic playfulness, Barthes here outlines a counter thesis on the nature of writing, one outside the usual boundaries of hypothesis- argument-conclusion and that points to the difficulty of conveying the concept of a text of pleasure in formal academic discourse. The present thesis represents a response to this problem, with two columns of text juxtaposed on the pages of the four sections that follow the introduction. Both columns are part of the same process of critical-creative writing that informs the thesis but they are presented in different styles: formal critical commentary in the right-hand column and a critifiction in the style of an e-mail monologue on the left. The title of the thesis, In a message dated has particular reference to the fiction in the left-hand column that was developed from an e-mail exchange between the author ('A') and Raymond Federman CM*), one of the theorists/ writers who informs the ideas of this work. Each of the sections in columns approaches issues about the pleasure of the text, but from different standpoints: souvenirs, cyberspace, madness and abjection. These perspectives provide the triangulation necessary for the author to get closer to the central purpose of her thesis: an investigation into her own unorthodox style of writing, one which defies any convenient genre. By placing herself at the centre of the investigation, both as a writer and as a fictional character, a process of self-discovery takes place. What she discovers is the difficulty of connecting the pleasure of her dispersed and fragmented writing into a coherent whole. Maurice Blanchot has described this search for wholeness as a 'curious kind of crab's progress', that 'at the moment it is about to emerge makes the work pitch strangely. Ultimately, all that can be established is that writing took place. E-mail was chosen because it provided an economy of language and seemed to be the ideal medium to capture the spontaneity necessary to engage fully in the pleasure of writing. The context in which e-mail operates is universally understood it can dispense with formal grammar, punctuation and spelling fragments of unconnected text can exist with no further explanation. These features provided the freedom of the left-hand column of the thesis which was then put into a context and supported by the formal commentary on the right. To engage with a language of pleasure involved giving oneself over (in the e-mail fiction at least) to a seduction, a desire for the other's words. It also involved abandoning a previously written text, called Souvenir. This is attached as an appendix to the thesis as a physical reminder of the souvenir it represents. The fifth and final section of the work, a third-person narrative called 'Paris', reflects back on a first and second meeting of the e-mail correspondents in Paris a year apart. It provides, however, neither a conclusion to the critique nor a climactic fictional ending. Instead, here the columns of the first four sections dissolve into a single body of text, free from the constraints of both the critical commentary and the e-mail discourse, now no longer necessary as the couple have met in actual time. It is an outcome of the thesis, but one that could not have been known in advance. It is a culmination but not a resolution of a problem or argument. In this it supports the kind of critique highlighted by Barthes in the opening sentence above, that the pleasure of the text is always a matter of potential, not of conclusions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available