The image and the body in modern fiction’s representations of terrorism: embodying the brutality of spectacle

Sage, Elizabeth M (2013) The image and the body in modern fiction’s representations of terrorism: embodying the brutality of spectacle. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

My research arises from a critique of the tendency within terrorism debates to equate the terrorist act with the production of spectacular images. Chapter 1 uses the work of Luce Irigaray to critique this trend in terrorism discourses, arguing that such a characterisation relies on a repression of the very materiality that terrorist action exploits. Moreover, placing the concept of terror in an Irigarayan framework reveals that the concept of terrorism is bound up with concepts of masculinity. In developing this critical approach, I build on the thinking of both Irigaray and Gayatri Spivak in turning to literary representations of terrorism to find a means of articulating a new understanding of the concept of terrorism and its place within our culture.

Chapter 2 brings together the figure of the woman terrorist in terrorism studies, Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter(1979), and Doris Lessing’s The Good Terrorist (1985) in order to critique the portrayal of the feminine in terrorism discourses. Chapter 3 then moves on to ask how the global reach of terrorism discourses after September 11th, 2001, has impacted on our understanding of masculinity and femininity, looking at the relationship between the body and subjectivity in Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2006). Finally, Chapter 4 examines how Don DeLillo’s Falling Man (2007) figures the body as a site of resistance to such global narratives of terror, as he explores the possibility of an embodied ethics opening up a suspension of photographic and filmic modes of perception.

By setting up a dialogue between terrorism studies and literary fiction, I reintroduce the body to our conceptualisation of terrorism. In doing so, I show how literature can open up new ethical horizons in an otherwise closed rhetoric.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0471 20th century
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0481 21st century
P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0185 By period > PS0221 20th century
P Language and Literature > PS American literature > PS0185 By period > PS0229 21st century
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2013 14:39
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2016 15:16
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/44737

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