Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The critical history of Modernism has long asserted a connection between Modernist literature and war. Studies as diverse as Paul Fussell's "The Great War and Modern Memory," Vincent Sherry's "The Great War and the Language of Modernism," and Modris Ecksteins' "Rites of Spring" all maintain that Modernism responds, whether in subject matter or poetic structure, to the conditions of worldwide conflict. This dissertation contends that Modernist literature encountered a fundamental deadlock in its attempt to address the violence that surrounded it, a deadlock experienced because the act of writing is itself founded on violence. The compositional necessity of prioritization and selection means that writing is, in principle, based on what poet and critic Allen Grossman has called a "bitter logic" of representation--a way of writing in which "this must be before that, or such that this be because of that, or such that this be and not that"--a logic that participated in the economy of violence to which many Modernist writers were opposed. I contend that one of the key, if unacknowledged, features of Modernist literature is its attempt to manage this "bitter logic" and that the structural congruity between the violence of writing and the violence of war makes its successful management an especially urgent concern in literature of the time. The three figures on which
Chair and Committee
Guinn Batten, Robert Henke, Lutz Koepnick, Anca Parvulescu
Smith, Richard Carter, "Failing Better: The Ongoing Aesthetics of Lacan, Beckett, and Stein" (2011). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 623.
Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2111