Date of Award

1988

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English

Specialization

English Literature

Department

English

First Advisor

John Leo

Abstract

The novels Nightwood, Genoa, and One Hundred Years of Solitude take intriguing approaches to history which seem to question and subvert certain dominant sociology-cultural attitudes. Not only are we asked to re-view history and its narrative identities, but also to reconsider related issues such as the place of women and desire in history; the body of history; the problem of textuality (history/literature); and the status and identity of the human object.

Traditional humanist criticism is unsatisfactory in considering these problems, so the critical perspective used here derives from Bakhtin and several poststructuralis and feminist theorists. After discussing significant terms (history, discourse, body) and the critical approach in general, a chapter is devoted to each novel. Here the critical response is reviewed, and the way the novel interacts with the topic is traced, with more specific discussion of relevant theories.

Although quite different from each other, all three novels have in common a challenge to authority and the suggestion that there are three ways of viewing history and the human subject which differ from the dominant. They invite us to rethink what it means to be human and insist that this cannot be separated from historical, social, cultural, political (including sexual politics), and linguistic considerations. All three writers could be said to deconstruct history, revealing repressions and forms of "otherness" they consider significant. While disturbing, the questions they raise are important and potentially liberating.

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