Pritchett, Elizabeth Reed Jackson (2017) Vital texts: democratic intertextuality in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

Pilgrimage (1915-­‐1938/67), Dorothy Richardson’s long modernist novel of female consciousness, has a history of mischaracterisation. The first novel to be termed stream of consciousness, Pilgrimage offers an account of New Woman, Miriam Henderson, as she comes of age in fin-­de-­siècle Britain and becomes a writer in the first decades of the twentieth century. Adhering strictly to Miriam’s consciousness, Pilgrimage is often read as a byword for high modernist style: hermetic, elitist, and anti-­‐democratic. By examining the power relations behind Pilgrimage’s other key formal system of representation, not stream of consciousness but intertextuality, this thesis offers a new understanding of Pilgrimage as a vital text of democratic modernism.
Dialogic, diffuse, and dissensual, Pilgrimage’s intertextuality provides a counter-­‐ balance to the novel’s stream of consciousness, revealing the diverse and polyphonic voices of which Miriam’s subjectivity is composed. By staging its intertexts in relation to the perceiving subject, Pilgrimage constructs a space of democratic intertextuality: a space between texts where hierarchical distinctions between text and intertext, author and reader, self and other break down. This in turn points to the need for other equally open spaces of representation to emerge for women, not just in the artistic sphere but also in the socio-­‐political arena.
Using four case studies – Pilgrimage’s recourse to the personal letter, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, Richardson’s nonfiction for The Crank and The Saturday Review, and Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique – this study examines how the intertextual replaces distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art with an understanding of art as a node of intersubjective connection and play. Moreover, by dramatising the acts of reading and interpretation, Pilgrimage reframes textual ‘value’ in contingent terms that invite readers to apply the same principles to itself. As such, Richardson’s novel of the single female consciousness opens itself up to the processes of democratic contestation, debate, and reform.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Indefinite embargo
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 11:56
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2017 11:57
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3868

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