Lyrical Fictions: Material Voice and Cultural Continuance in Cormac McCarthy, Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Young Bear
AuthorDuMont, Andrew Reilly
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoDissertation not available
AbstractThis project is concerned with the role of the storyteller in the production and maintenance of human community. Starting with Roland Barthes's critique of romantic and modernist authorship in "The Death of the Author," I trace the parallels between literary and political authority in the globalized modern world, and ask if they mean that a revision of the author opens space for the reimagination of political community. To answer this question, I draw on recent discussions of cross-cultural comparison and theories of oral tradition to redefine literary voice and its relationship to modern textual authority. I then refer to the distinct cultural traditions that inform McCarthy, Hurston, and Young Bear to understand each author's focus on the material aspects of human speech, such as breath. The emphasis on these aspects of voice changes its use from a way to claim metaphysical certainty and political authority into a means for physical interaction that founds community in mutual vulnerability. The individual author thus becomes a participant in conversation, rather than one who intuits truth from the margins of human society, and the storyteller or political leader is able to take part in but not define the continuance of a given community. In making this argument, I use a study of poetics to ask students and teachers of modern American literatures to see the field as a site for the ongoing legislation of American community and identity, and suggest a method for engaging in comparative analyses that allows for the distinctiveness of different literary and cultural traditions while appreciating the possibilities in their resonating responses to the modern world.
Degree ProgramGraduate College