Type of Document Dissertation Author Anderson, Dustin URN etd-06252010-140119 Title Remembering to Forget: The Event of Memory in Joyce and Beckett Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title S.E. Gontarski Committee Chair Barry Faulk Committee Member R.M. Berry Committee Member Joyce Carbonell University Representative Keywords
- Cotard's Syndrome
Date of Defense 2010-06-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis project is an attempt to re-conceptualizes the interaction between memory and the body, specifically the failures and slippages of memory, in the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. I contend that Beckett’s work (following Joyce’s examples) explores the moment of interaction between the cognitive mind and the corporeal body as memories become actions—or fail to become actions. I examine moments of memory failure or slippage in light of cognitive science developed by neurophilosophers (from Bergson to recent works by Pinker, Kandel, Ramachandran and Damásio) to discuss how these types of memory-events work in studies of phantom limbs and bodies, neuro and physical memory mapping, and in neuropathies as they materialize in language.
To that end, this project takes a two-fold approach: first, to examine how the work on memory that Bergson theorized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is reflected artistically by looking at two texts (Finnegans Wake and Murphy) that develop approaches to memory and cognition similar to Bergson’s own, and, second, to examine how cognitive science has finally caught up with the modernist writing that anticipated much of what contemporary neurophilosophers are studying now.
Chapter one discusses development of cognitive science and its disavowal of its foundation in Bergson’s late nineteenth & early twentieth century work in Time and Free Will, Matter and Memory, The Creative Mind, and Creative Evolution. The second chapter then develops a comparative analysis of those current trends and practices in cognitive science, specifically those related to perception, as well as the artistic cognitive projects that Joyce and Beckett develop that are strikingly similar to those that Bergson pioneered in the late nineteenth century. The third chapter deals with Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as an attempt to remember and the failure inherent in that process. However, since the design of Finnegans Wake is a model of actual cognition (circuitous and simultaneous rather than sequential), the attempts to remember always imply the process of forgetting. The event of memory in Joyce functions in two ways, first as an inaccessible initial memory but also as a transmutive shift into a new form of memory. This chapter works backwards from the resulting memories to find the triggering memory-event. Chapter four develops a reading of the set-piece of the Murphy’s mind which is informed by both Bergson’s own development of cognitive zones (based on his reading of Leibniz’s monadic model) and Joyce’s development of the monad into a dyad in Finnegans Wake. The third and fourth chapters form discussions of where Joyce ends his study on memory and Beckett begins his study (respectively). The conclusion points to where we might look to develop the discussion further by looking at Watt briefly.
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