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Title:Controlled Distance: Internal Character Presentation in Flannery O'Connor's Short Stories
Author(s):Ludwig, Dale Leslie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Maclay, Joanna H.
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Speech Communication
Literature, American
Abstract:This dissertation explores the nature and function of narrative distance in Flannery O'Connor's short stories. Narrative distance, in its most general sense, involves the position from which readers view fictional characters and the worlds they inhabit. In stories like O'Connor's, third-person structures which rely heavily on internal character presentation, the study of narrative distance focuses on techniques used to take the reader inside the consciousnesses of characters. O'Connor's stories were chosen as the subject of this study because they share a consistency of design and purpose rarely found in modern fiction. Her exclusive use of third-person narration, her preference for single-character focus, and, perhaps most significantly, the overwhelmingly consistent rhetorical thrust of her stories make them appropriate candidates for a study of narrative distance.
O'Connor seeks a uniquely spiritual reaction to her work, achieved through a combination of emotional and intellectual responses within her readers. This study argues that through a combination of "opposing" narrative techniques, that is fairly "pure" applications of figural and authorial modes of presentation, O'Connor holds several tensions in balance, effectively harnessing the power of both modes of presentation within a single structure. It is this combination of techniques and responses that creates within the reader the complex experience upon which many O'Connor stories depend.
The issues raised in this dissertation were sparked by an interest in how narrative fiction can be critically explored through oral performance. The field of oral interpretation, out of which this dissertation grows, assumes that the process of bringing a literary text to performance both requires and generates critical insight. Although actual performances are not discussed in this study, the critical issues raised by the consideration of a text's potential performance focus this discussion. In short, this dissertation applies recent research in narrative theory (relying most heavily on the work of Franz Stanzel and Dorrit Cohn) to a rhetorical analysis of O'Connor's stories.
Issue Date:1988
Description:419 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8908758
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1988

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