“I who am here dissembled”: exteriority in T.S. Eliot and his modernist contemporaries

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael R. Bedsole (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Anthony Cuda

Abstract: This dissertation examines the way that twentieth-century Modernist poet T. S. Eliot stages the production and reproduction of human subjectivity in his work. It places him in context of other thinkers of the period (poets, novelists, social theorists) to better understand both their reflections on self-construction and his own. Specifically, this study examines how Eliot deconstructs the inner/outer binary that his contemporaries use when theorizing the self. In doing so, it positions itself against those critics who argue that Eliot exclusively emphasizes interiority (or the experience of inwardness) as such. Inverting these typical claims, this study argues that Eliot privileges exteriority (i.e., the externalized objectification of self), and it claims that from his earliest poetry, Eliot dramatizes individuals as opaque surfaces lacking depth. However, this dissertation also claims that Eliot portrays a process whereby individuals become aware of their own self-objectification, the realization of which proves ironically, dialectically generative of an experience of interiority, however tenuous or transitory. My hope in this work is to demonstrate Eliot’s difference from his contemporaries as well as to suggest how his work parallels certain later theorizations of the self. I also hope to advance a view of Eliot as a dialectical thinker and to trace an alternative genealogy for one branch of Modernism.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Dialectic, Exteriority, Interiority, Modernism, Subjectivity, T.S. Eliot
Identity (Psychology) in literature
English literature $x Psychological aspects
Modernism (Literature)
Eliot, T. S. $q (Thomas Stearns), $d 1888-1965 $x Criticism and interpretation

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