Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



My dissertation challenges the widespread assumption that modernist literature represents time as positive and affirmative, as a locus of possibility. Critics and scholars have obscured modernists' more troubled relationship to time by emphasizing the critical narrative in which art triumphs over time. To construct this narrative, many of them have used spatializing language to discuss modernist time, and hence made it seem more static and manageable than it actually is. I argue that modernists were conscious of the intractability of time, of what Henri Bergson called "time flowing" experiential time that resists the imposition of spatial order. I explore the modernists' representation of "time flowing" through the examination of their syntactic tempo. While narrative and other spatializing devices like meter and rhyme tend to represent time as static, the sentence'the way it unfolds on the page, word by word'amplifies the temporal nature of experiential time. Close attention to syntax helps us recover how modernists engaged with fluid time, and their awareness that time slips away from the grasp of representational language. My dissertation focuses on Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Vincent Sherry

Committee Members

Ignacio Infante, Steven Meyer, Timothy Moore, Vivian Pollak


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