Literary analysis and reader response

Literary analysis and reader response
Isabel Galleymore (English)
Mistrusting Metaphor: metaphor and the natural world in British poetry
John Locke, seventeenth-century philosopher, stated in ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ that metaphors
are for ‘nothing else but to insinuate wrong ideas, move the passions, and thereby mislead the judgment’. In the
context of twenty-first century nature writing, Locke’s damning criticism regarding metaphor has continued.
Ecocritics have considered the device ‘predatory’ in representing environments, whilst educators have condemned
metaphors as ‘false images’. This paper asks why such attitudes from the early modern period can continue today.
To answer this question, this paper studies how metaphor has been used by poets to represent the natural world
since Locke’s essay appeared. Analysis focuses on particular genres such as medieval allegory and its figurative
representations of animals to the Romantic movement and its concern regarding imagination and reason. This
paper investigates both correspondences and contrasts between these literary practices and philosophical debates
on metaphor. By showing how such philosophical debate has progressed in the last fifty years with theorists such as
Max Black attests to the anachronistic character of current concern in nature writing and suggests that such a
literary style actually assists in perceiving environments.
Jacqueline Hopson (English)
‘What can we know about other people? The presentation of the self and others in Patrick McGrath’s novel,
Fictional narratives can present the reader with complex activity. What can reliably be ‘known’ about fictional
events? Whose authority can the reader trust? Why is it important, within a fiction, to discover what is ‘true’?
I shall explore Patrick McGrath’s 1996 novel, Asylum, showing how the novel’s action is defined by the author’s
narrative strategies. Authority in presenting information will be considered, as will the reader’s response. While the
psychiatrist-narrator tells the story of two of his patients with considerable detail, it is the reader’s task to ask how
he has come by this information. The narrator, an authority on mental illness and the criminally insane, reveals
much that is ‘true’ about himself via his narrative voice, though he appears unaware of his revelations. On the other
hand, all information about the patients is mediated by McGrath’s psychiatrist-narrator. Can such narration have
the (debatable) authority of case-notes? If madness is a reshaping of reality, what can the psychiatrist ‘know’ if the
patient is denied a voice?
Pleasure in reading can come from decoding narrative strategies. McGrath’s novel requires the reader to undertake
serious detection work to discover what we can know and how we can arrive at such knowledge.
Sandra Daroczi (French)
Intertextual dialogues and the reading process in Julia Kristeva’s Thérèse, mon amour (2008)
Intertextuality, a concept introduced by Julia Kristeva, argues that no text can exist on its own, texts are always in
dialogue with each other, crossing temporal and spatial boundaries. Moreover, the category of intertext can be
enlarged to include not only literary texts, but a multitude of social and cultural productions. This paper aims to
analyse the intertextual dialogues established by and within Kristeva’s 2008 work, Thérèse, mon amour. Despite
being a largely unanalysed work even in France (the English translation was only made available in November 2014),
TMA can help us understand the manner in which complex intertextualities affect the reading process, alienating or
attracting the readership. TMA acquires an encyclopaedic character, covering a period from the 16th century to
contemporary time, and drawing on a variety of cultural artefacts such as Bernini’s sculpture of Thérèse d’Avila,
musical scores, psychoanalytical concepts, Kristevan theories and a plethora of literary texts (from Don Quixote to
Joyce’s Ulysses). The processes required to decipher these intertextual connections ask for a constantly active
reader, which can enhance the pleasures of reading, or on the contrary, lead to overstrain. This dynamism between
alienation and attraction will be analysed using three main themes: the authorial presence in the text, the possible
creation of a reading community, and the inscription of real Parisian landmarks into fiction.