Liminal subjectivities in contemporary film and literature

McHugh, Ian Paul (2012) Liminal subjectivities in contemporary film and literature. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis discusses the intersection of subjectivity and the liminal in contemporary literary
and filmic texts.

In discussion of eight texts, the thesis weighs the dual meaning of “liminal subjectivities” –
the liminal space between subjectivities, and the condition of subjectivity as it negotiates
the liminal. It aims to explore how liminality manifests in manners both universal and
specific to the literary or filmic form, in the embodiments of characters, and the rhythms
and poetics of the text. It considers the liminal a privileged trope of destabilised
subjectivity, a space of suspension and potentiality, and explores how the liminal functions
as an interface between haecceity and otherness; whether it binds together or holds apart; if it is a space between oppositional states or a continuum of specific sites of intensity.

The eight texts discussed are The Rings of Saturn and Vertigo (W. G. Sebald), Sputnik
Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore, and After Dark (Haruki Murakami), Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry), My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant). The work of Sebald and Gondry is considered in translation from the original German and Japanese. The thesis considers both literary and filmic texts to contrast the salient modalities of subjectivity that each form constructs.

Each chapter considers how liminality manifests at the surface of the text, how a liminal
agency operates to interrupt, destabilise, and displace subjectivity in the spaces between
languages, genre, form, voice, states of consciousness, word and image, facticity and
fictionality, and cinematic and literary tropes and modes. The discussion explores how this
is reflected and expanded upon within the text, in liminal embodiments, intensities, and
motifs, such as the hypnagogic, rites of passage, the uncanny, home, the vespertine, night,
metamorphosis, carnival, as well as issues of space – the non-place, the extraterritorial, and nomadic space.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR6050 1961-2000
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2012 13:26
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:37

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