Fluid States: Modernism and the Self in the Literature of Port Cities
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe central project of this dissertation concerns itself with the port city, a recurrent setting of the modernist novel. It also seeks to investigate what lies behind the fact that the setting of the port city often coexists with the telling of stories about a malleable or exchangeable self or personal identity. Beginning with an understanding of modernity as a destructive whirlwind, I proceed to trace the various literary modernists who have used the port city as a space that might let one gain some shelter--or even benefit--from that storm. This dissertation begins with the Anglo-Saxon poem The Seafarer before moving through Pound's translation of that poem and Melville's Moby-Dicky. It looks also at Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, James Joyce's Ulysses, and Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet as key examples of the modernist port city novel. These texts occupy a broad swath of chronology and their settings cover a wide area geography. When combined with the diverse national backgrounds of these authors, this range of time, place, and cultures intends to demonstrate both the pervasive nature of the crisis modernity provokes in our sense of identity and the persistent appeal of the port city as a space in which to grapple with this crisis.
Degree ProgramGraduate College