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Title: Another kind of light : a loving attention in modern British and Irish fiction
Author: Lee, Cheryl Julia Wei Ling
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 004X
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2019
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This dissertation positions itself in relation to the long-running dialogue between philosophy and literature as it has evolved in recent decades. It is a study of how the kind of sometimes immersive, sometimes perplexing uncertainty involved in reading literary texts can be seen as exemplary of and an analogue to the mystery of lived experience, embodied as it is in the human other; and how a critical engagement with this aspect of the reading process might inform the way we conduct our ethical relations. Refracting this matter through the lens of aesthetic form, I draw on the work of a range of thinkers-including Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Simone Weil, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Roland Barthes-to read the novels of Iris Murdoch, Ann Quin, Aidan Higgins, Alan Hollinghurst, and Ali Smith. Through a discussion of these fictional works of romantic love, I posit a new kind of ethical, loving attention to the world that respects and responds to the mystery inherent in experience. The thesis begins by redefining ethics, in light of modern intellectual thought, as always exceeding morality. This facilitates the adjustment of the parameters of ethical inquiry in order to reclaim space for the aesthetic. Framing ethics as a problem of aesthetic form, the thesis goes on to consider the implications of this proposition by examining what constitutes an ethical image. Concluding that an aspect of blindness is essential to ethical perspective, the potential of literary works to illuminate this notion of blindness-as-seeing is then considered and a category of literature, blind literature, is proposed as a kind of writing which exemplifies it. The thesis concludes by considering how this newly defined ethical perspective might be seen to constitute an aesthetic activity that takes place in part in the dark and is a formal accomplishment of beauty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available