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Subjectivity as Performance in Literary Texts


Ljungberg, Christina (2009). Subjectivity as Performance in Literary Texts. In: Veiveo, Harri; Ljungberg, Christina; Johansen, J Dines. Redefining Literary Semiotics. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars' Press, 86-108.

Abstract

Whatever else subjects are, they are actors caught up an indefinite number of intersecting performances. This is as evident in the workings of literary texts as it is in the dramas of everyday life. Indeed, the issue of subjectivity as performance in literary texts addresses fundamental semiotic issues pertaining to how literary texts work. None are more fundamental than these three: how do we as readers no less than authors make meaning from signs, how do we relate literary texts to the various worlds in which they are—or simply might be—located, and how do our various modes of engagement with literary texts affect the ways we make meaning in what is often called the life-world? At the outset I will provide a working definition of subjectivity, a manifestly protean term, crafted specifically for the task at hand, which is to explore the relationship in literary texts between subjectivity and performativity. I will then turn to a detailed examination of the various ways in which subjectivity is actually enacted or performed in two contemporary works, Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries and Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude, particularly focusing on diagrammatic figurations and dramatic positionings.

Whatever else subjects are, they are actors caught up an indefinite number of intersecting performances. This is as evident in the workings of literary texts as it is in the dramas of everyday life. Indeed, the issue of subjectivity as performance in literary texts addresses fundamental semiotic issues pertaining to how literary texts work. None are more fundamental than these three: how do we as readers no less than authors make meaning from signs, how do we relate literary texts to the various worlds in which they are—or simply might be—located, and how do our various modes of engagement with literary texts affect the ways we make meaning in what is often called the life-world? At the outset I will provide a working definition of subjectivity, a manifestly protean term, crafted specifically for the task at hand, which is to explore the relationship in literary texts between subjectivity and performativity. I will then turn to a detailed examination of the various ways in which subjectivity is actually enacted or performed in two contemporary works, Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries and Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude, particularly focusing on diagrammatic figurations and dramatic positionings.

Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:September 2009
Deposited On:03 Nov 2009 14:18
Last Modified:08 May 2016 16:19
Publisher:Cambridge Scholars' Press
ISBN:978-1-4438-0499-8
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/25281/

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