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Object Lessons: Joyce and Things

Tondello, Alberto; (2021) Object Lessons: Joyce and Things. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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My research project, Object Lessons: Joyce and Things, looks at the variety of everyday objects portrayed in James Joyce’s works to show how their perception inflects the cognitive and emotional states of both his fictional characters and his readers. At the intersection of philosophical posthumanism, ecology, and literary studies, my thesis analyzes Joyce’s works through the lens of such contemporary theories as “Thing Theory”, “situated cognition”, “waste studies”, and “Actor-Network Theory” in order to consider their ability to expose the entanglement between the human subject and non-living entities. Deploying a panoply of approaches to the mundane material things of daily life—which are parsed under such categories as symbols, commodities, stuff, waste, and the substance of art—Joyce’s texts investigate and redefine collaborations and dissonances between human and nonhuman agents. Such enquiry is rendered compelling by Joyce’s treatment of language, the radical departures of his styles reshaping our conception of what it means to enter into contact with everyday objects. My work develops along two interlinked axes. On the one hand, it analyzes selected passages from Joyce’s texts to explore how things as common as a clock, a collection of diary entries, a rusty boot, and a handkerchief are represented and instigate interaction with human characters. On the other hand, it considers how language itself acquires density, becoming an object amongst objects with a particular texture and qualities liable to provide new ways of engaging with the unobtrusive, often unnoticed stuff of the world. Taking a chronological approach to Joyce’s oeuvre, the project follows the evolution of the key concept of “epiphany” in Joyce’s body of work. Initially focusing on the achievement of a single moment of revelation, and later highlighting the multiple relations and correspondences between subjects and objects, the epiphany appears as a mediating link able to chronicle sympathies and hostilities between a subject and its material environment.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Object Lessons: Joyce and Things
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125537
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