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Author Strode, Timothy Francis
Title The ethics of exile: Levinas, colonialism and the fictional forms of Charles Brockden Brown and J. M. Coetzee (South Africa, Emmanuel Levinas)
book jacket
Descript 370 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 64-06, Section: A, page: 2080
Director: Derek Attridge
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, 2003
This dissertation examines the interrelations of ethics, territoriality, and narrative form in two historical periods: colonial America and postcolonial South Africa. The dissertation is oriented around two related problems. The first is. How does narrative, normally imagined to be a temporal art, encode its relation to space, especially the territorial space that is the subject of colonial possession and dispossession? The second problem is: Assuming that colonial space is never a mere context for human activity, and that, to its possessors, it is, in fact, a primary condition of subjectivity, how does one conceptualize ethics in such a space?
The dissertation addresses these questions by, first, developing a theoretical framework that features a dialogical encounter between the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Heidegger on the subject of human dwelling. Having found a tension between nomadic and enrooted forms of dwelling within, respectively, the Levinasian and Heideggerian positions, the dissertation then develops an interpretive framework for discerning ethical forms within territorial representations, including works of narrative fiction. The dissertation applies this framework to a reading of early American fiction---Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly---and colonial American texts affiliated generically with territoriality---inventories and treaties by Thomas Hariot and William Penn. It is shown how a common discourse of discovery and territorial invention links these formally unrelated texts to a shared spatial and discursive matrix. The dissertation then situates Brown's novel within a reading of works by Thomas Jefferson and Henri St. John De Crevecoeur, and shows how, via this encounter, one may discern within the novel a territorially possessive structure. The dissertation next provides an analytical overview of urban segregation in twentieth-century South Africa. Within this spatio-political context, the dissertation examines the fiction of J. M. Coetzee. It treats Coetzee's fiction as an exilic response to the problem of ethics and space: his work articulates an ethically split subject, that is, a subject simultaneously implicated in racist dwelling and oriented, as an internal exile, toward a spatial "beyond." The exilic, it is suggested, describes an extraterritorial and intersubjective "third space" of ethical responsibility
School code: 0190
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 64-06A
Subject Literature, Modern
Literature, African
Literature, American
Alt Author Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
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