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Title: Treacherous lines : death and the limits of language in Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville
Author: Packham, Jimmy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 721X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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This research focuses on the relationship between death and language, as it is presented in the literature of Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville. I argue that Poe and Melville share a conception of the limits of language, and represent encounters with these limits as ones that, in a variety of ways, involve the subject or language itself with death. My conception of what constitutes language is drawn, in a large part, from the theoretical work of Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. The limits of language are various, but often involve the distortion or corruption of a signifier or the recognition of the arbitrary correspondence between a signified and its signifier. It is in the gap between signifier and signified that death frequently emerges. This work engages with previous critical work on the representation of the shortcomings of signifying systems in Poe and Melville, by foregrounding how encounters with language can consistently be read as encounters with death and by drawing these two authors together in an extended way. In order to illuminate the similarities between their representations of death and the limits of language, this study is structured in such a way that keeps the presentation of Poe's concerns side-by-side with those same concerns in Melville's work. The structure is broadly tripartite. First, I look at the limits of writing in Poe and Melville; second, I look at the limits of speech; and, finally, how silence impinges on both writing and speech in their work. Preceding these chapters, is an introductory chapter, in which is established the theoretical groundwork for the study, and a chapter outlining the theories of language as presented by Poe and Melville themselves.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available