Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Supervisor

Professor Joseph Adamson

Abstract

Using the psychopathological literary methodologies of trauma theory and shame psychology, this dissertation addresses the subject of masochism in the modem British novel. Literary psychopathologists investigate the meaning of fragmented narratives by comparing their symbology and mythoi to psychiatric models of trauma, masochism and shame. Trauma theory, for example, focuses on an individual's proto-experience and her/his need to express it in language, while shame theory provides a helpful framework for explaining manifestations of overbearing shame. The nucleus of my thesis on non-Freudian masochism is pointedly heuristic: it aims to demonstrate to the reader a methodology that is capable of interpreting British modernist texts with a deeper psychological understanding than is offered by most Freudian methodologies. Non-Freudian masochism theory specifically involves the need to hurt oneself or punish oneself by defeating or subverting oneself out of shame or guilt. Even though its paradoxical teleology is rooted in the attainment oflove and respect, its unique affective signature resides in its myopic solicitation of self-destructively fatal, when not mortifying, social situations. Whereas my introduction focuses on the conceptual proximity of trauma and shame affect to my own hermeneutical non-Freudian interpretation of masochism, the subject of my conclusion is the performativity of bearing witness, and the empathic ethos of testimonials of departure. My methodology is left pregnant with the hope that my future will include more opportunities to interpret further works by Henry James, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, as well as other masters of the literary canon.

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