Yates, Juliet Rose (2012) Hands-on Modernism: representations of the hand in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage and modernist literature 1914-1939. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

The fragmentation endemic to modernism poses the difficult question of how we read the modernist body. In this thesis, I propose a new critical approach in response to this question – theoretical partialism – whereby looking at the particular and reading the representation of the hand as a signifier offers further insight into wider concerns such as, female subjectivity, performativity, sexuality and societal positioning. Because the hand can be both male and female, it allows for an interpretation of the body which does not rely on biological determinism, masculine discourse or essentialist feminism but, instead, provides the site for a new understanding of the body and constructions of gendered identities. Theoretical partialism finds its origins in psychoanalysis, sexology and feminist discourse and suggests that the hand can be used as a starting point for a wider theoretical discussion of totality. The paradox of the hand’s power of unification and differentiation is explored and the fetishistic approach reveals that there is not necessarily one totality but the potential of understanding different interpretations of the total. Therefore, theoretical partialism is used not as a method of regaining conventional ideas of totality but rather as a means for gaining a reconstituted notion of the whole and of selfhood from the fragments of modernity.

My thesis develops this approach through readings of six texts: predominantly Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage; Arthur Munby’s material is also investigated in order to establish the hand’s significance in the Victorian imagination; and as a method of illustrating the extent to which the hand features as a signifier in modernism, I explore the fragmented form and gendered identities in James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Katherine Mansfield’s “The Little Governess” and Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Michael Debenham
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2015 12:48
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2015 12:48
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/1186

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