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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52805
Doc. No:TL22759
Call number:‭3384610‬
Main Entry:Mia Louise Groves McIver
Title & Author:Sovereignty and world-making: States of exception in modernist literature 1918-1941Mia Louise Groves McIver
College:University of California, Irvine
Date:2009
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2009
Page No:310
Abstract:This dissertation proposes that between World War I and World War II, the relationship between war, politics, and language can be best understood through a political-theological prism. One strain of twentieth-century political philosophy considers sovereignty to be a matter of absolute, transcendent power constituted during states of exception, in which an emergency justifies suspending the rule of law. On the other hand, the fictions of high and late modernism that engage the Balkan wars, the two World Wars, and severe domestic disturbances feature representations of weak sovereignties constituted from the ground up, through a combination of craft and poiesis I call world-making. For the writers I consider--David Jones, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Rebecca West, and Bertolt Brecht--such a lens refracts questions of form, personality, nationalism, and universalism. These five authors meditate on sovereignty as a problem that must be resolved in modernity, even as their representations, informed by a long tradition of thought concerning supreme autonomous rule, acknowledge its intractability. They share a common interest in the specifically religious dimensions of this tradition because they weigh the competing claims to particularity and universality made by secular Enlightenment modernity and Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theologies. Thus they situate their critiques at the intersection of the terrestrial and the transcendent, where the polis and the ecclesia vie for sovereign pre-eminence. Their texts contemplate the relation between divine and worldly governance, commandment and proceduralism, and private belief and public action. Composing characteristically hybrid genres, modernists concretize such abstractions through figures of genius, legality, family, work, messianism, and even meteorology. Suggesting that in prevailing accounts of modernism (especially those that focus narrowly on empire, postcolonialism, or biopolitics), we find sovereignty under-examined and under-theorized, I show how these five authors' narrative strategies critically intervene in debates about the nature and limits of absolute power. Literary modernism re-imagines sovereign leadership, the sovereign subject of liberalism, and the limits of national sovereignty, making it possible for us to think through, around, and beyond them.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; English literature; Political philosophy; Theories of sovereignty; Craft; War; Twentieth century; Jones, David; Woolf, Virginia; Joyce, James; West, Rebecca; Brecht, Bertolt; Comparative literature; British and Irish literature; 0593:British and Irish literature; 0295:Comparative literature
Added Entry:M. Norris
Added Entry:University of California, Irvine