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The Hermeneutics of Otherness in Medbh McGuckian's Poetry
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines the works of the Irish poet Medbh McGuckian (1950-), from her first major collection The Flower Master (1982) to The Book of the Angel (2004). The central thesis of this study is that McGuckian’s poetry dramatises the relationship between the self and the other as a dialogue between what is beyond the immediate grasp of the self, on the one hand, and the interpretive activity of the self, on the other, a process I term the hermeneutics of otherness.

The study traces this hermeneutic process in relation to three levels of otherness: internal otherness, the otherness of other human beings, and the absolute alterity of the wholly other. Drawing on the theories of Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricoeur, I explore the hermeneutics of otherness through an examination of three prominent themes in McGuckian’s poetry, namely representation, desire and corporeality. Firstly, it is shown that McGuckian’s meta-representational poems call attention to the spatial and temporal gaps of language, which are seen to allow otherness to enter into dialogue with the self. Secondly, it is suggested that McGuckian’s poetry is characterised by an existential desire to be, which can be described as a desire to extend consciousness beyond the limits of its present cognitive horizon, towards both internal and external otherness, and it is shown that the circulation of desire between the self and the other is depicted as mutual and many-levelled. Thirdly, it is argued that in McGuckian’s poetry the body is both a site of alterity, as well as a means of approaching the other differently, that is, in a way which avoids reification of the other in conceptual frameworks, while still allowing for an exchange, or what one might call a hermeneutics of flesh.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Engelska institutionen , 2006. , 132 p.
Keyword [en]
English language, Irish poetry, Medbh McGuckian, Otherness, Hermeneutics
Keyword [sv]
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-6760OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-6760DiVA: diva2:168080
Public defence
2006-05-06, Ihresalen, Humanistiskt centrum, Thunbergsvägen 3 L, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2006-04-10 Created: 2006-04-10Bibliographically approved

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