my literature PhD thesis abstract

***I’m currently in the 4th year of my PhD in literature, hoping to be finished in around a year to a year and a half. Thought I’d share my abstract so people can get an idea of what it is I write about***

TITLE: The Implicit Art: Tracing the Underlying Presence of Art, Artists and Art Movements in Modernist and Late Modernist Literature

ABSTRACT: My research centers around discerning how art can be present within a text without being explicit, that is, by overt means such as actual images and allusion to specific art, movements and artists. It will be argued that the presence of art, and moreover the ideologies associated with many of the presiding art movements of the twentieth century onwards, can be felt even when a text is confined to the purely literary. Thus, whilst many of the texts discussed often experiment with graphic, visual dimensions, blurring the boundary between literature and art, it is vital to consider that such dimensions provide only a fraction of the artistic gamut engaged by these authors. Indeed, the presence of art can be felt through all manner of literary dimensions: be it through language (e.g. tone of narrative voice, character dialogue, turns of phrase, inflection, use of irony); recurrent motifs and thematics; stylistics; tonality; choice of setting; historicisation (references to specific historical figures, fashions, events, technologies, forms of language, etc.); metatextuality (which often crosses into the surface/pictorial space of texts but is by no means restricted to it); even the much more generalised ideology of the text. I will use four authors as my exemplars, all of whom have had a presiding influence by art within their work: for J. G. Ballard this is the European surrealists and especially the paranoiac-critical art of Salvador Dali; for Douglas Coupland the Pop Artists of the 60s and especially the iconic works of Andy Warhol; for William Burroughs the artist Brion Gysin, with whom he developed the legendary cut-up method; and for Gertrude Stein the age-defining cubist art of Pablo Picasso. It shall be argued that all these authors are consciously appropriating and adopting the aesthetics of these artists and movements within their texts, often as a means to channel a preexisting philosophy in order to bolster and extend on their own ideas, or in some cases, to provide a critical lens up to society. This idea of art providing a critical lens, was argued by the media theorist Marshall McLuhan, whose philosophical works often veered into artistic spheres (in part drawing on the ideas of Wyndham Lewis), and who had a seminal influence on many of the authors present, and so his theoretical approach will be utilised throughout the thesis.



12 thoughts on “my literature PhD thesis abstract

      1. Nah I’m another field entirely, working on criminal justice/Gypsy Traveller interaction. It’ll probably be ethnographical in nature once I get around to data collection. Writing short stories is purely recreational for me!


      2. Oh really I thought you must be doing creative writing! It’s interesting then how you kind of do your Gypsy traveller style story telling on the side whilst you study the more serious side of it! XD

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  1. Wow this is amazing! I think of Gertrude’s Stein’s repetitive hypnotic bits and pieces which seem so absurd to an untrained eye and yes when you put it against the contextual background of Picasso and also the things she said to Hemingway (at least according to Hemingway) it goes far deeper… I really get your thesis idea and love it. Also I loved Coupland’s Microserfs back in the day

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    1. awesome thanks Nadine! I’m glad you get it as I’m often looked at with confusion when I try to explain what it is I actually look at haha. Also thanks for the tip on Hemingway, I’ve not looked at that, can you remember where that’s from?

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      1. Aw thanks for the nice reply! Yes Hemingway talks about Stein a little bit in his “fictional” memoir and final “novel,” A Moveable Feast. A must-read for anyone who wants to write and who likes Hemingway’s style. He also brings scenes with Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound in this book and a few others as well, plus it takes place in Paris, as well as in the alps (for a short bit); even snippets of writing with his baby son asleep near him (though I suspect that didn’t happen often); absolutely wonderful read. <33

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