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Theses

Haunted Narration in the 21st Century British Novel

Abstract : This study sets out to gain a better understanding of trauma and its concomitant haunting as reflected specifically in The Pregnant Widow (2011), Wish You Were Here (2012) and The Sense of an Ending (2011), narratives that arise from, and allude to the contemporary sense of global existential crises. We investigated the implications of trauma and spectrality for the narrative economy as reflecting the wider social and cultural implications. We aimed to demonstrate how spectrality and “possession” by trauma represent not only an internal psychical struggle to ‘work through’ trauma, but how this struggle also impacts and alters the protagonists’ deep-seated notions of subjectivity. We studied how the various manifestations of trauma were (re)presented in the text and how the textual manifestation of trauma proved or contradicted certain established views of trauma as theorized in the academia over the past three decades. Additionally, we researched the dynamics arising out of the textual interaction between narrativity and trauma, as narrativity is a visibly foregrounded element of the corpus novels. Our concern was to know whether the fiction-trauma interaction is one in which literature allows for a richer elaboration of trauma beyond its conception as cognitive void, and whether metafictional foregrounding of narrativity points to any tendency beyond postmodern revelation of reality as a fictive construct. Trauma, whether personal or collective, is depicted as the affective force that triggers a universal subjective questioning. The outcome of this psychical investigation is a revised subjectivity and an awareness of existence as composed of interconnected – and thus responsible – beings. The novels problematize a contemporary period in deep crisis and subscribe to an immanent worldview. The universe portrayed in the novels evokes a single vulnerable body, calling for ethical sensibility and care. Further, they reaffirm the nature of subjectivity as mediated through fictive social constructs, yet they also posit the revisited provisional narratives of trauma as the only way forward toward working through trauma.
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Reza Maleki Sedghi. Haunted Narration in the 21st Century British Novel. Literature. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAL008⟩. ⟨tel-01691224⟩

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