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Förtvivlade läsningar: Litteratur som motstånd och läsning som etik
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4601-1894
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study has two aims and addresses two areas of investigation. The first aim is to examine, in four novels and their textual worlds, what role is played by collective self-images and essentialist identities in maintaining power structures in regard to gender, class, norms for mental functions, and ethnicity. Whether, and if so, how, the novel’s deconstruction of language and images can function as resistance to hegemonic oppression? What does the encounter between the privileged collective and the marginalized look like in the novel, and what happens in this encounter?

The project’s second aim is to probe what criticism of, and what strategies for resistance to, various power structures reading can provide. To what extent is it possible to speak of responsibility for, and in, the reading of fictional works? What role is played by the (un)expected and the conditionality in the poetical novel’s ethical demands on the reader? What might reading as an ethical practice mean and entail? The dual aim situates this dissertation in an interdisciplinary field between ethics, literary studies and aesthetics.

In this study despair is the fundament on which the ethical reader stands to approach literature. Rather than discovering meanings, finding examples, or experiencing empathy, it is being engaged in the conditions determined by suffering and injustice that constitutes ethical reading.

The novels Drömfakulteten (The Dream Faculty) by Sara Stridsberg, Hevonen häst (Hevonen Horse) by Annika Korpi, Montecore by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, and Personliga pronomen (Personal Pronouns) by Daniel Sjölin comprise the material for the study. They are analysed in terms of deconstructive hermeneutics. Theories brought to bear are primarily Gayatri Spivak’s post-colonial and Emmanuel Levinas’ phenomenological thinking about ethics, together with ideas from, among others, Derek Attridge, Judith Butler, and Sara Ahmed.

The readings of the novels are done via four points of entry: identity, the body, the human, and the post-political, as part of the project’s work process, with each reading leading to new questions and critical interventions.

The analysis points to a responsibility in relation to identity, a practice where oneself is shifted and transformed. This responsibility also encompasses accountability for the normative orders that need to be changed. Literary projects per se cannot achieve this, but they can be read as a stab at resistance, material for the reader to elaborate upon. This responsibility is an ethical practice that is not completed, that has uncertainty inscribed in its very essence, and that is reinvigorated with each new reading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Glänta produktion, 2015. , 301 p.
Keyword [en]
literature, essentialist identities, gender, class, norms for mental functions, ethnicity, deconstruction, deconstruction, oppression, resistance, reading, responsibility, ethical practice, despair, Drömfakulteten, Hevonen häst, Montecore, Personliga pronomen, Gayatri Spivak, Emmanuel Levinas, identity, the body, the human, the post-political
Keyword [sv]
Skönlitteratur, läsning, motstånd, etik, essentialism, förtvivlan, kropp, identitet, det mänskliga, det postpolitiska
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247533ISBN: 978-91-86133-65-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-247533DiVA: diva2:797073
Public defence
2015-04-24, Geijersalen, Eng 6 - 1023, Engelska Parken, Humanistiskt centrum, Thunbergsvägen 3P, Uppsala, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-03-31 Created: 2015-03-19 Last updated: 2015-12-09Bibliographically approved

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