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Title: Real spectres of Barthes : Camera Lucida as dark ecology
Author: Heppell, Chris
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 4893
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis performs a deconstructive reading of Roland Barthes's text Camera Lucida (1980). It considers the text as a mesh of dark ecology after Timothy Morton. The first three chapters conduct a comparative analysis of the manifest content of the text in order to contest its inheritance and complicate the question of Barthes's realism, often erroneously conditioned as “naïve.” Chapters 1–3 approach Barthes's figure of the “vrai hallucination” by interrogating the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre (Chapter 1) and André Bazin (Chapter 3) on the text. Chapter 2 forms a bridge between Chapters 1 and 3 by considering how Bazin translates iterations inherited from Sartre. This thesis argues that Barthes is an irrealist when considered through the lens of Sartre and a surrealist when considered through the lens of Bazin. Barthes's attempt to distinguish his work from his predecessors fails: this thesis argues that charting this failure has ecological significance. The second part of the thesis moves into new territory, turning around the figure of Barthes's “Palinode” (Chapter 4) towards a post-deconstructive understanding of photography in relation to Barthes's Winter Garden photograph (Chapter 5). The conclusions from Chapters 1-3 are built upon with a focussed reading of the question of redemption of essence in the Winter Garden photograph. This thesis argues that Barthes fails to experience the essence of his mother in an unmediated way, instead involving her singularity in distributed networks of alterity. Rather than a deep ecology of restoration, a dark ecology of complicity is signalled by the text. The thesis is framed in terms of the text's relevance for thinking about the imminent ecological crisis we face, and the conclusion gestures towards the possibility of reading Camera Lucida progressively, and without the figure of Mother Nature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen ; Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available