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Title: Picturing Repose: Between the Acts of British Modernism
Authors: Shin, Jacqueline
Advisors: DiBattista, Maria
Stewart, Susan
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Bowen
Subjects: British and Irish literature
Fine arts
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In <italic>Picturing Repose: Between the Acts of British Modernism</italic>, I attempt to retell the dominant and widely accepted story of modernism by considering the importance and prevalence of a "dream of rest" within the shock-effects of modernity. Exploring hitherto overlooked "spaces of time" between the major acts of the period before, during, and after the Second World War in Britain, I offer an alternative to Theodor Adorno's desperate description of modern life as a series of "empty, paralysed intervals" between "a timeless succession of shocks." Instead, I uncover the complex and often consolatory counter-pressures exerted by, and within, such intervals. Through an agile play with sightlines, framing, and visibility that resists a transfixing and anaesthetizing flatness, the works of Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, and artists associated with them offer not simply escapes from, but also resources for counterbalancing, a reality that is experienced as in some way overwhelming or exhausting. Connecting literary works with painting, photography, film, and statuary, I trace the mobility of late modernist aesthetic practices. Unfolding in three "acts" that address unsettled vision, intensities of vision, and dynamic vision, <italic>Picturing Repose</italic> proposes that any account of modernism -- and of late modernism in particular -- needs to be wide enough to encompass something more consolatory than the trauma and despair that have largely come to define it. The dominant story about the period, which tells us of fragments shored against ruin, of a relentless barrage of shock and violence, and which largely denigrates what Greene calls "ways of escape," is correct in intertwining modernism and violence, yet the dream of rest that I consider challenges the heroic and anti-escapist underpinnings of much modernist writing and criticism. Woolf, Bowen, and Greene, I suggest, in drawing upon tactics of disorientation that refuse to let the reader settle, unexpectedly yoke together an aesthetics of shock and repose in ways that oppose habitual vision.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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