Auto-biology: metaphors of the body in the autobiographical texts of Woolf, Duras and Barthes

Vanessa Enrica Evangelista

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated] This thesis examines the representation of bodies in three twentieth-century autobiographies: Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf, The Lover by Marguerite Duras and Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. In particular, there is a focus on metaphors of physiological sickness and fatigue, aging, depression and desire in a reading of these three texts. One reason for such a pathological interpretation of the body is to challenge Western notions of identity that rely upon a mind-body separation in order to interpret and valorize human consciousness over human physicality. Contrary to this Western metaphysical binary, self-identity in this thesis is conceptualized as embodied consciousness in order to suggest a representation of the self as a temporally and spatially located reality.
    The Introduction discusses the so-called "problem" of autobiography within post-Enlightenment philosophy. Whilst postmodern theory has seriously unsettled notions of the self and of the individual, fascination for "the body" is often associated with recuperating notions of human identity. However, within literary studies, postmodernism and theories of the body share a theoretical potential to unsettle a binary model of thinking governing Western metaphysical philosophy that divides and marginalizes the "body" - often gendered as "feminine", from the "masculine" concept of "consciousness". In this thesis I argue that the autobiographies of Woolf, Duras and Barthes treat identity and the body as ambivalent and vulnerable aspects of the self.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Western Australia
    Publication statusUnpublished - 1996

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