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UBC Theses and Dissertations

De(con)structive poetics : readings of Hilda Doolittle’s The war trilogy Scoggan, John William


The thesis studies linguistic, structural and post-structural models we may use for reading a classical text, in this case for reading Hilda Doolittle's The War Trilogy (Oxford University Press, 1944-1946). The object of the study is to demonstrate the application of recently developed critical techniques for examining a text that lies in the Anglo-American long poem tradition, contemporary with the writings of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Louis Zukofsky, and Charles Olson. The study is not restricted to a reading of The War Trilogy, as such, but also tries to define a poetics whose recursive formations typify what we call contemporary writing. The thesis explores theories for reading approaches that have been developed from Saussure's Course and from subsequent linguistic strategies outlined in the new critical modalities being advanced by Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricoeur, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva, Jonathan Culler and others. The study is divided into two parts. Part One discusses critical methods, models and metaphors for outlining what is meant by de(con)structive reading and writing. Part Two gives interpretations of The War Trilogy based on the way these exegetical techniques focus on questions of textuality. Reading methods explored include: hermeneutic cryptanalysis, linguistic coding, linguistic modelling based on semiotics, communications theory in literary narratives, metaphors of writing and tracing, theory of supplementarity and difference, grammatology, schizanalysis, with provisional definitions for characterizing differences between classical polysemy and the writing of the modern genotext. Thus the study broadly differentiates between the composition of the classical Book, formed as a logocentric representation of concepts, and the decomposition or disintegration of concepts traced by the writing of the modern text, produced as a logodaedalic inscription. The general terms "classical" and "modern" are not strictly categorical distinctions but are used throughout as diacritical indicators for showing how and where Hilda Doolittle's The War Trilogy occupies an ambiguous marginality, leaving its mark along a "margin of difference" which is drawn between Book and text, Word and writing, reflecting both classical and modern styles of lecture and ecriture. The study also presents ways that "interpretation", as such, may be iconographically depicted by various mimetic tropes which religiously permeate and program the way we read, the deceptive circulation of the letter, the envelopment of concepts in writings, and their development in literary discourse.

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