The uses of silence : a twentieth-century preoccupation in the light of fictional examples, 1900-1950
Dauncey, Sarah (2003) The uses of silence : a twentieth-century preoccupation in the light of fictional examples, 1900-1950. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1667786~S15
A striking feature of twentieth-century Western cultural history was a
preoccupation with silence. This thesis is a survey of the phenomenon across a
broad range of literary and theoretical discourses actively engaged in the period
in exploring and exploiting silence's expressive and philosophical potential. Its
focus, and unifying principle, is the dynamic resourcefulness of the motif-the
diversity of its uses and significations. The meaning of silence shifts according to
its context and the discourse deploying it. By analysing an array of novels and
theoretical formulations-by writers as diverse as James, Chopin, Conrad, H. D.,
Forster, Lawrence, Faulkner, and Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Blanchot, Hassan,
Macherey, Irigaray, Spivak, Derrida-the mobility of silence as a construct is
Silence is identified in the fiction of the period 1900-1950, and its
implications are assessed in the light of the various ways in which its uses were
understood and interpreted by twentieth-century theorists. Theory provides a
heuristic device for the comprehension of the fiction selected for scrutiny whilst
further highlighting the extent of the past century's dedication to the motif.
Fiction and theory are regarded as two different manifestations of a fascination
with silence: fiction dramatizes a commitment to the motif which comes to be
formally registered in theoretical discourse as the century progresses.
After an introductory chapter outlining the expanse of the phenomenon to
be studied, the thesis is divided into two parts illustrating the discrete
implications attaching to the motif: 'Social Silences' and 'Ontological Silences'.
The project questions whether the multiplicity of silence's usage may work to
depotentiate its signifying power; in particular, whether its role in abstract
'ontological' formulations diminishes its force for emancipatory 'social'
discourses. In conclusion, by means of the synchronic organization of the thesis,
silence's import is shown to lie in its resourcefulness rather than in any intrinsic
characteristic it might be thought to possess.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Silence in literature, Silence (Philosophy), English fiction -- 20th century|
|Official Date:||September 2003|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies|
|Sponsors:||Arts and Humanities Research Board (Great Britain) (AHRB)|
|Extent:||vii, 417 p.|
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