The machinery of madness: Psychosis, technology and modernist narrative [electronic resource].

Gaedtke, Andrew.
257 p.
English literature.
Irish literature.
British literature.
Romance literature.
Literature, Modern.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
This dissertation argues that a growing failure to distinguish mind from machine induces a state of madness in late modernist fiction. I argue that twentieth-century discourses of psychology and technology become converging threats to fundamental assumptions about the sovereignty of mental life. New media are seen as "influencing machines" that affect their audiences below the threshold of consciousness, while new psychological regimes reinterpret the mind in technological terms. As the language of "character" is supplanted by that of "system," the novel undergoes a corresponding transformation. I argue that Wyndham Lewis, Mina Loy, Flann O'Brien and Samuel Beckett reconstruct the form of the novel in order to record the cultural delirium brought on by these conspiring threats. I show that the form and content of these paranoid novels can be clarified through comparisons with memoirs of mental illness. In this "archive of madness," I find an unexamined textual record of the mechanizing regimes of the mind. Like Lewis's The Childermass, Loy's Insel, and O'Brien's The Third Policeman, these paranoid memoirs are caught between a desperate demand for narrative order and its disastrous failure. During such moments of psychological and cultural delirium, narrative promises to reconstruct a coherent world by reinforcing the failing distinctions between the human and the non-human. I show that a comparison of these psychological and aesthetic conditions brings both into greater focus and helps us to hear a legacy of complaint that has long been silenced.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-10, Section: A, page: 3849.
Adviser: Jean-Michel Rabate.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 2009.
Local notes:
School code: 0175.
University of Pennsylvania.
Contained In:
Dissertation Abstracts International 70-10A.
Access Restriction:
Restricted for use by site license.
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