Building Yoknapatawpha: Reading Space and the Plantation in William Faulkner

Clough, Edward (2014) Building Yoknapatawpha: Reading Space and the Plantation in William Faulkner. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis is about the Southern plantation in Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha fiction: how
it is represented and constructed, how it is narratively articulated and experienced as
both space and symbol. But as its full title suggests, Building Yoknapatawpha is equally
about narrative structures and spaces too: about how Yoknapatawpha textually fits
together; about how this spreading oeuvre was constructed by Faulkner and how it
may equally be reconstructed by the reader. It is about both the reading of space and
the space of reading – about how the architectural spaces and social order of the
Southern plantation and the narrative structures of the novel inform, complement,
and challenge one another, and how their affinity may ultimately be used to generate
a new “spatialized” model of literary reading.
Foregrounding tensions between narrative “details” and “design” and
conceptions of “ruin” and “restoration”, this thesis explores how Faulkner’s
Yoknapatawpha novels function simultaneously as “open” and “closed”. It considers
how Absalom, Absalom! (1936) attempts to recuperate the repressed historical
connections present in Flags in the Dust (1929), only to erase them once more through
death, destruction, and narrative closure. It considers how Go Down, Moses (1942)
offers models of black domesticity that resist the oppressions of segregation and
lynching – but which are dispersed through black diaspora and narrative exclusion. It
considers how The Mansion (1959) revises and integrates details from earlier
Yoknapatawpha texts to create a richly layered textual space – but which is in constant
tension with the process of the historical “whitening” of the Southern post-plantation
landscape which it ultimately depicts. Building Yoknapatawpha concludes by
attempting to resolve these tensions into a new model of literary reading:
deconstructing Yoknapatawpha to reassemble it as a layered “mapping” of multiple
parallel narrative paths and connective links, which resist the mastery – and erasure –
imposed by linearity and closure.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of American Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 14:11
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014 14:11

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