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Title: The short story as a language of demystified modernities : a study of Yusuf Idris' and Julio Cortazar's visualizing aesthetics
Author: Milton, Alexandria
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 040X
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This project takes the 'visualizing capacity of language' in the short story as a language unto itself, asserting the genre as text rather than a literature per se, conceived from within and in the service of an as-yet unrealized social reality in societies undergoing profound transition. It raises questions about the nature of textuality, and poses visuality as a language of textuality. A pervasive comparative approach in short story criticism locates its agency vis a vis the novel, which it situates as the literary embodiment of the modern world, considering modernity within a corresponding hegemonic framework. I frame the resulting problematics using John Berger's idea of 'mystification', whereby the short story and its discourses are obscured. This study questions whether articulating the short story's language as a visualizing text may contribute to a new understanding of the form and its place in society. It seizes on the textual dynamics of (in)visibility, a visually distilled aesthetics whose essence is located in sublanguages of visibility and invisibility, conveyed through a salient materiality at the intersection of form and language. The aesthetics that assert these ideas constitute examples of the method of reading the short story's visualizing aesthetics within their local and textual scenarios and offers a method of entering short story criticism through the local, rather than vice versa. I focus on two short story writers whose visualizing aesthetics are imbued with a legacy of ideas that encompass the short story's intimate relationship with discourses arising out of their regions' modernizing projects. For Yusuf Idris the trope is amara, a conceptual Arabic word that refers to the implicit knowledge of a populace. For Julio Cortázar, it is a self-referential mythopoesis as a form of resistance against hegemonic elements. Achieving these ideas aesthetically requires a 'prolonged struggle' to wrest the short story from its Eurocentric elements to inscribe it with the languages constitutive of an organic modernity. Ultimately, this study offers a method of reading the short story as a language of social concern rather than merely a conduit for such a language. It rethinks ideas connected to modernity, to the short story's situatedness as a world literature, and the complexities and contributions of Egyptian and Argentine/Latin American literature vis a vis postcolonial studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral