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Title: Reading seeing : visuality in the contemporary novel
Author: Weaver, Camilla
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 6313
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This study argues that contemporary literature archives and articulates its wider visual environment. It develops an interdisciplinary methodology, making a case for visuality as something that can be read. This study rethinks how we approach literary criticism: it asks that a reader bring awareness of a wider visual culture and an understanding of how images work to the text. Close reading reveals how description, far from being ornamental to narrative, drives much of the thematic or theoretical content of a given novel. These texts do not simply replicate their wider image environment; they engage with it on a critical level. A visual approach can illuminate literary concerns and techniques. But, equally, the novel form has a lot to tell us about the structures and issues attendant on the image. The first chapter considers how Teju Cole’s prose emulates certain visual forms, particularly photography. For this author, writing and reading have an inherent affinity with visualization. And his work has much to tell us about the ethical and historical issues that attach to particular techniques and targets of visual representation. The second chapter reads character description in Ali Smith’s fiction from the perspective of visual portraiture. It shows how description stages conversations to do with gender and identity, and with the limitations of narrow categorization in both respects. Smith’s novels then propose certain strategies as correctives to the dangers associated with a highly visual cultural environment. The final chapter focuses on how Helen Oyeyemi’s work exposes race’s uneasy relationship with vision and visual representation. Like Cole and Smith, for Oyeyemi the novel is a valuable and flexible space within which to explore the possibilities and limitations of the visual field as an area for expression, for representation, and for the unfolding of identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General)