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Title:Modernism's laughing bodies: a taxonomy of the phenomenology of laughter
Author(s):Moore, John Lee
Director of Research:Mahaffey, Vicki
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mahaffey, Vicki
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Goodlad, Lauren; Hansen, Jim; Gaedtke, Andrew
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
visual poetry
Elizabeth Bowen
Wyndham Lewis
James Joyce
Hope Mirrlees
Abstract:The image of the laughing body recurs throughout the long history of modernist literature and film, appearing not only in comic and satirical works but also, surprisingly, in works that cannot be labeled as comedies at all. These images are often meditations on embodiment in which felt experience is juxtaposed with appearance. Analyzing this juxtaposition against the backdrop of the decline of the British Empire, this project argues that texts featuring these bodies constitute an archive of the ways that bodies are subject to and resist expectations about how bodies should look and feel within the emerging networks of nationalisms in the post-colonial Anglophone world. From visual poetry to novels that reimagine satire as “externalist art,” the narratives explored in this project use the visual space of the page to dramatize the incongruity between felt experience and image, between how it feels to move across the Anglophone world and how external expectations are forced upon the bodies that traverse it. Reading the changing network of nationalist rhetorics through the materiality of the body, this project recovers non- canonical modernist narratives to chart the way that narrative indexes nationalist feeling in England and Ireland. The laughing body dramatizes the complex relationship between gender identity, sexual attraction, the lived experience of the body, and national sentiment. The desire to move past restrictive national identities is often presented as a transgressive sexual experience. Laughter enacts this transgression as an extra-linguistic eruption, a guttural and gestural interruption that manifests as a textual aberration that is itself transgressive of literary convention. Unauthorized feeling becomes unauthorized text that might be littered with extra punctuation, present itself as a linguistic Cubist collage, reference the way that its own pages fold over on themselves, or contain errant printers’ marks that take on a life of their own.
Issue Date:2016-11-30
Rights Information:Copyright John Lee Moore 2016
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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