Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Abject Utopianism and Psychic Space
This dissertation utilizes the psychoanalytic theories of French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva as a lens through which to read the novels of American author Samuel R. Delany. I argue that concepts proper to Kristeva's work--namely abjection and/or the abject--can provide a way to think what it might mean to be utopian in the 21st century. Delany's novels are received historically, which is to say his work speaks from a certain historical and cultural viewpoint that is not that of today; however, I claim that his novels are exceptional for their attempts to portray other ways of being in the world. Delany's novels, though, contain bodies, psychologies, and sexualities that are considered abject with respect to contemporary morality. Nonetheless, this dissertation argues that such manifestations of abject lived experience provide the groundwork for the possibility of thinking utopianism differently today. Throughout, what I am working toward is a notion that I call Abject Utopianism: Rather than direct attention toward those sites that closely, yet imperfectly, approximate the ideal, one should commit one's attention to those sights that others avoid, abscond, or turn their nose up at in disgust, for those are the sites of hope for a better world today. Author Keywords: Abject, Delany, Kristeva, Literary Criticism, Psychoanalysis, Utopia

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