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Title: Reading frictions : the politics of touch in Teju Cole, Katja Petrowskaja, Han Kang and Claudia Rankine
Author: Caspari, Maya Maria Nasta
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 3602
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the politics of touch in contemporary world literature through readings of texts by four twenty-first century authors: Nigerian-American novelist Teju Cole, South Korean author Han Kang, Ukrainian-Jewish-German writer Katja Petrowskaja and American poet Claudia Rankine. From different standpoints, all the authors address the intertwined legacies of major sites of modern violence, including the Holocaust, colonialism and slavery. They search for a creative form that records this violence, yet also resists modernity’s ideological grammars. Through innovative formal strategies, they attempt to reroute modernity’s ideological formations, not only interrogating fixed national borders and global hierarchies, but also resisting the abstraction that such formations inscribe. Many radically reconfigure the relationship between language and the body, initiating new potential temporalities in which to imagine and enact political change. In this way, the texts are creative and political interventions: they both inhabit an already-existing world and generate possibilities for thinking beyond it. The worlds from which the texts depart not only comprise hegemonic political formations but also established literary and critical-theoretical discourses. Drawing on diverse bodies of theoretical work including postcolonial trauma studies and queer phenomenology, I argue that in the process of rerouting modernity, the texts also intervene in debates around contemporary world literature. In contrast to critical approaches which read world literary politics as a worldly extension of (post)modern self- reflexivity, many re-imagine resistance through their engagements with touch. Interrogating modernity’s oppositions between legibility and illegibility, they also implicitly demand a new form of world literary reading. Departing from both the neat equivalences of comparative literature and the postcolonial politics of untranslatability, the texts suggest that new imaginaries for resistance may emerge from reading frictions.
Supervisor: Taberner, Stuart ; DeFalco, Amelia Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available