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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: The Age of the Screen: Subjectivity in Twenty-First Century Literature
Author(s): Rae, Allan
Supervisor(s): Hunter, Adrian
Keywords: contemporary literature
screens in literature
twenty-first century literature
Oryx and Crake
The Tain
The Book of Strange New Things
cultural theory
psychoanalytic theory
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2015
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The screen, as recent studies in a number of fields indicate, is a cultural object due for critical reappraisal. Work on the theoretical status of screen objects tends to focus upon the materialisation of surface; in other words, it attempts to rethink the relationship between the supposedly 'superficial' facade and the 'functional' object itself. I suggest that this work, while usefully chipping away at the dichotomy between the 'superficial' and the 'functional', can lead us to a more radical conclusion when read in the context of subjectivity. By rethinking the relationship between the surface and the obverse face of the screen as the terms of a dialectic, we can ‘read’ the screen as the vital component in a process which constitutes the Subject. In order to demonstrate this, I analyse productions of subjectivity in literary texts of the twenty-first century — in doing so, I assume the novel as nonpareil arena of the dramatisation of subjectivity — and I propose a reading of the work of Jacques Lacan as hitherto unacknowledged theorist par excellence of the form and function of the screen. Lacan describes, with the function of desire and the formation of the screen of fantasy, the primary position this ‘screen-form' inhabits in the constitution of the Subject. Lacan’s work forms a critical juncture through which we must proceed if we are to properly read and understand the chosen texts: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber; The Tain by China Miéville; Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; and Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. In each text, I analyse the particular materialisations of the screen and interrogate the constitution of the subject and the locus of desire. By analysing the vicissitudes of subjectivity in these texts, I make a claim for the study of the screen as constituting a central question in the field of contemporary literature.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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