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Title: Making modernism's monsters : atavistic bodies and the politics of declining life
Author: Heffer, Byron
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 4218
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis enquires into the significance of monstrosity in literary modernism. It argues that an analysis of monstrosity in the work of Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), Mina Loy (1882-1966) and Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) provides new ways of situating the modernist body in relation to contemporary preoccupations with biopolitics, animality, media technologies and the posthuman. The aim of this thesis is to show that theories of posthumanism which emerged from postmodern or poststructuralist thought cannot provide a persuasive account of the modernist fascination with the monstrous. On one hand, the writers I analyse prefigured the canonical strains of posthumanist thought by imagining bodies which disrupt the categorical divisions between humans and animals, organisms and machines, the living and the nonliving. On the other hand, they repeatedly evoke the monstrous by drawing on narratives of atavistic regression and tropes of contamination, horror, degeneration and pathology. Literary and artistic modernism coincided with a period in which anxieties about the ‘species body' (Foucault) of humanity were intensely debated among scientists, eugenicists, politicians, artists, writers and cultural critics. By positioning avant-garde and modernist writers and artists in the context of biopolitical modernity, this thesis argues that critics have often neglected the contested and politically ambiguous origins of modernist posthumanism. In seeking to understand the connection between historical forces and cultural production, ‘Making Modernism's Monsters' contributes to current debates about the emergent cultures of literary posthumanism, the cultural logic of modern biopolitics and representations of the body in modernist-era art and literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR0478.M66 Monstrosity