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Title: Medial-systematic modernism : text and environment in Conrad, Woolf, and Joyce
Author: Kavanagh, Brendan Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 9004
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This dissertation examines the mediation of ecological consciousness in certain texts by Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce; the wider discussion argues that their narratives formulate systematic organizations that constitute implicit negotiations of formatted relation with particular physical environments and atmospheres. Following an introductory discussion of relevant critical and theoretical background in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 examines Conrad's writing of storms in Lord Jim and Typhoon, and shows that these narratives systematically pattern themselves alongside the weather systems which they evoke; as part of Conrad's self-evolved universe of an inhuman 'knitting machine', these narratives weave into and out of themselves the stammering and stuttering of human voices amid inconstant weather, and thereby implicate the circumscription of human habitation within the workings of atmospheric disturbances. Chapter 3 shows that an ecological Woolf and a medial Woolf are closely linked, through demonstrating how the textual organization of The Waves interlinks a physical ecology of wave forms, radiation, and nonhuman organisms (in the The Waves's interludes) with a medial ecology of communicational practices and systems (implicitly evoked throughout The Waves's human monologues). The concluding phase of Chapter 3 then examines how Woolf's medial self-consciousness in both The Waves and Between the Acts informs these narratives' writings of ecological community and ecological organization in the physical world. Chapter 4 highlights the confluence of noisy soundscape and contagious atmosphere in Joyce's Ulysses, and argues that Ulysses immunologically engineers its absorption of the noise of its evoked soundscapes, through transcoding external, acoustic noise into internal, typographic noise. Chapter 5 then applies Joyce's immunology to an ecological reading of Finnegans Wake, and responds to past readings which have emphasized Finnegans Wake's dismantling of its own boundaries; as Chapter 5 shows, at the same time that Finnegans Wake constitutes itself as an opening onto a world outside of itself, the Wake formulates an immunological disposition towards the condition of its own openness.
Supervisor: Connor, Steven Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: modernism ; Joseph Conrad ; Virginia Woolf ; James Joyce ; environmental literature ; ecology ; media studies