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Title: Reading to you, or, The aesthetics of marriage : dialogic intertextuality in the works of Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster
Author: Williamson, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 8874
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Using a methodological framework which develops Vera John-Steiner’s identification of a ‘generative dialogue’ within collaborative partnerships, this research offers a new perspective on the bi-directional flow of influence and support between the married authors Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster. Foregrounding the intertwining of Hustvedt and Auster’s emotional relationship with the embodied process of aesthetic expression, the first chapter traces the development of the authors’ nascent identities through their non-fictional works, focusing upon the autobiographical, genealogical, canonical and interpersonal foundation of formative selfhood. Chapter two examines the influence of postmodernist theory and poststructuralist discourse in shaping Hustvedt and Auster’s early fictional narratives, offering an alternative reading of Auster’s work outside the dominant postmodernist label, and attempting to situate the hybrid spatiality of Hustvedt and Auster’s writing within the ‘after postmodernism’ period. The third chapter considers Hustvedt and Auster’s transfictional exchange of the ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin and Jacques Lacan through dialogue, characterisation and plot, an approach which seems to indicate Auster’s assimilation of Hustvedt’s theoretical interests, alongside a shared affinity for Martin Buber’s credo of mutuality. Continuing this discussion of self-other dialectics, Chapter four demonstrates how Hustvedt and Auster’s visual representations encompass models of intersubjectivity informed by the phenomenological approaches of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, highlighting how Hustvedt and Auster utilise ekphrastic techniques to foreground the collaborative nature of creativity. Guided by Cathy Caruth and Dominick LaCapra’s alternative readings of Freudian traumatology, the closing chapter reflects upon the empathic authenticity of Hustvedt and Auster’s post-9/11 narratives. Assessing Hustvedt and Auster’s distinctive contributions to the knowledge formation in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries, the conclusion identifies a powerful bond of mutuality defined by the ‘uninterrupted conversation’ of their marriage, embodied in a generative dialogue and emotionally-freighted intertextual mode which is entirely unique to contemporary literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available